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The thrill of witnessing an "Aha!"

As part of my self-planned "Master's Degree in Personal Productivity," I've been doing pro bono coaching with a variety of people. In order to test who the various systems might (or might not) apply to, I'm trying to work with people who have different learning and thinking styles. I've coached a number of people with "left" brain styles (e.g., science graduate students, a web design CEO, and a sales/marketing consultant), but one of my current clients is much more of a right brain type - less linear, more holistic, "creative," etc. (I don't like the words I've used - I think how we label people seriously belies the complexity of minds - but I hope you get the idea.)

While working with my client (a personal creativity coach, and a great musician) I had the privilege of witnessing a couple of genuine Aha! moments. The one I remember best (and which literally gave me shivers), happened when we were processing one of his many notes from memo books spread throughout his house. This particular one had to do with ideas around his upcoming birthday, which is a significant one for him. We already had an entry for the birthday on his Projects List (it involved more than one concrete next action - see David Allen's Workflow diagram), but he wasn't sure where to put ideas. I suggested he make a folder for the birthday, and store the note there. He stopped, looked around, and I could see that this really connected. He said something like "Wow - I can have a folder for my birthday... I'm important enough for a folder..." It was surprisingly touching!

Now, many of the people I know would have trouble understanding either a) why someone wouldn't think of this on his own (i.e., putting the note in its own folder), or b) why it would be such a big deal. However, this kind of organizing doesn't come naturally to everyone - if it did, Allen's book wouldn't be a best seller! We're not born knowing things like the importance of writing things down to keep them out of our heads, keeping things in folders in a simple A-Z filing system, etc. and it's rewarding to see someone feel it in his bones. Besides - how often do we experience a moment like this, i.e, seeing someone's brain change with our help? It's really amazing.

Reader Comments (4)

Congrats! Sounds like your coaching is moving along great for you :)

January 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAlvin

Thanks, Alvin. Next step: Paying customers!

January 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

I like the idea of a self designed masters degree. Thought of on a much larger scale, there isn't anything that couldn't be "studied".

What would be the principles of a Master's Degree? I suppose it would include foundation learning, specific learning, and practical implementation? How did you design yours?

February 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMarc Shiman

Hey Marc, thanks for the comment. I liked your post on the subject ( [ The Self Planned Master’s Degree | http://inspiringdiscovery.com/?p=41 ] for those interested). Let's do it!

February 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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