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The Learning Circle - Reflection, Learning, Planning & Action

For the past 12 years I have trained, consulted and coached almost 160,000 managers and team members. I have employed numerous methods to assist individuals and teams to build their capacity. I believe every true professional is interested in improving their knowledge, skills and abilities. I am always looking for simple, yet proven methods to build capacity.

Capacity building is difficult under the best of circumstances. For it requires great self-discipline and adoption of a proven methodology. It should be obvious to one and all, professionals are better disciplined than the amateurs, in any profession. Basically professionals adopt better habits.

As a professional trainer, I am constantly reading about other international trainers and global methods that contribute to building capacity. Many methods are hollow (without substance) or are so complex, the learner gives up too soon, before they reap the benefits of the system.

Over the past year I have been part of a team that is applying, what I think is a very sound methodology to increase individual and team capacity. It is called the Learning Cycle.

The Learning Cycle has 4 parts; Reflection, Learning, Planning and Action. Take a moment to draw a circle, then on each quadrant, write the four words; reflection, learning, planning and action. Please do this now!

Reflection - to effectively reflect on your past performance (of the individual or the team) you need to detach your self from your ego. On your circle, between action and reflection, write the word 'detachment'. To successfully reflect you must detach and focus on what you have done well and what you need to change. Forget about what you did wrong. When you focus on negatives you dis-empower yourself and your team. When you focus on what you can change you empower.

This model is called the Plus/Delta. On a separate piece of paper draw a line down the center of the page. On the left top draw a plus (+) sign. On the top right draw a triangle (Δ) symbol. The (+) represents what you did well. The (Δ) represents the Greek symbol, the Delta, which means change, what would you change. Now take a few moments and record on the left what you have done well in the past week. Then on the right side, record what you need to change.

Learning - to effectively learn from your past performance you must be willing to search. On your circle, between reflection and learning, write the word 'search'. If you are not learning, you are not growing and if you are not growing, then you are dying (intellectually). You need to clearly understand your strengths and weaknesses. You must constantly search for new learning about yourself or your team.

Planning - to effectively plan, you must love. On your circle, between learning and planning, write the word 'love'. We use the word love to express a thirst to do better. People don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan. Love or passion to do better gives each of us a competitive advantage.

Action - to effectively act we need to have courage. On your circle, between planning and action, write the word 'courage'. This is the critical and crucial point of the learning cycle. This is where many individuals and teams fail. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know what they should do to improve, but they just don't act. I find it curious that they have time to do it wrong but not enough time to do it right. Find the courage to act.

So there you have it. A simple method called the Learning Cycle; reflection, learning, planning and action. Reflection requires detachment, Learning requires search, Planning requires love and Action requires courage.

If you, on a weekly basis apply the learning circle, you will eventually become the individual and/or the team you were destined to be. Build your capacity on purpose, not by accident.

Living with Purpose

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.

Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men.

Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.

Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.

Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility."

— Bahá'u'lláh

A Split Personality

I hope I have great business sense rather than a split personality. In late 2010 I made a business decision to refocus my business efforts. I believe the results will have a dramatic effect on my business in the coming years.

Currently I am focused on three businesses.

My principal business is Professional Sale Plus (PSP) which has been in operation for 12 plus years. PSP offers training, coaching and consulting to Managers and Salespersons around the world. So far we have trained over 159,000 managers and salespersons in 30+ countries.

My second relationship is with Berteig Consulting (BCI) as VP of Business Development. BCI has been in operation for 7 years and in the past two years I became a trainer and a coach. January 1st, 2011, I took on on the VP position. My wife, Bonnie, is helping me by contacting previous customers of BCI to get their feedback and look for future opportunities. BCI offers a variety of Agile methodologies to help teams self-manage and self-organize.

My third relationship is with Swiss Virtual Business School (SwissVBS) as Head of Business Development. SwissVBS is a very successful provider of e-learning and presentations to help companies to communicate effectively and their customers & employees to learn quickly.

You may wonder how I am going to make this work. I am walking the talk I give to all participants in my seminars. Activity, activity, activity is the key. I am filling the sales funnel with qualified referred leads. It is working for I have made sales for all three companies.

My days are full and the results are now happening. Maybe I have a split personality, but I am having a great time.

If you or someone you know could benefit from any of these services, please contact me at jimheidema@gmail.com.

MDRT - Greece - Feb 2-4, 2011

I had the pleasure of presenting at the Mega-Regional MDRT conference in Athens, Greece on February 4th, 2011. Over 2,000 participants from 30 countries attended. A wide variety of individuals presented on Financial Services related topics. It was an honor to be asked and to hopefully add value to a premiere event.

As you know I am involved with two companies, Swiss VBS (a e-learning provider) and Berteig Consulting (a Agile team building methodology). You can see these companies by visiting www.swissvbs.com and www.berteigconsulting.com to get a sense of their offering.

Swiss VBS made a gracious offer to all the MDRT participants to visit their site and take three on-line courses at no cost. Thank you Swiss VBS. To the MDRT participants, if you missed my slide about the offer, please e-mail me at jimheidema@gmail.com and I will send you the information.

By visiting my Facebook you can see photos of the MDRT event.