Learning Series: What Happens When You Have EI Awareness

“Many times we are our worst enemy. If we could learn to conquer ourselves, then we will have a much easier time overcoming the obstacles that are in front of us.” 
― Stephan Labossiere

In the last article in this series, I wrote about the tie-in of emotion to the ability to learn. The point-of-view that emotional obstacles block growth and learning is interesting. They don’t actually stop us from trying to learn; we can still go through the motions of going to a class and listening to discourse and trying to use that information for a particular need.

brainbulb

So, what happens to those students of themselves who learn to become more self-aware? What effect does it have on them and what effect does it have on their ability to learn?

Those who have had, or taken, the opportunity to recognize how they feel about different experiences have also been able to essentially evaluate whether each experience is valuable…either positively or negatively. For example, a person might work up the courage to ask her boss for a raise or promotion, only to be shot down. The rejection of the request and the emotional dejection from the failure to get the promotion is obviously negative. However, there are positive consequences that not everyone can recognize nor attain. Those more attuned to their emotions may be able to walk away with a feeling of pride after conquering the fear to work up enough courage to even ask for the promotion. That success also builds lasting confidence and can lead to larger and great feats to accomplishment. In effect, a negative and positive experience was used to produce a value statement for this person, in order to determine whether the result of the experience was worth the struggle. At this point, the brain has attached actual value to the experience.

“Through the experience of emotions, [we] come to recognize what is cognitively and affectively of value,” helping determine how and why we respond to the world around us
–(Dirkx, 2006)

Continue reading “Learning Series: What Happens When You Have EI Awareness”

How Do I Learn to Become More Aware of Emotion?

As I alluded to in the last article, the learning environment is important and must provide a “safe zone” to allow emotional content to be brought out when the moment is right. At this point trust has ensued and the walls start to come down. The student steps aside and gets out of his or her own way, so solid learning can occur. When you become aware of your awareness, it can truly be an awakening of sorts. It’s at this point, conscious or not, you begin to think about and process things differently. This leads to a different in your approaches with others and with yourself.

Mentoring can help this occur, because it is a different learning platform that provides specific benefits for specific circumstances. It is an alternative learning experience that promotes emotional intelligence improvements (one of many). It is very different than the traditional learning model we’ve all become accustomed to.

  • Individualized, customized, private vs. group classrooms and mass-audience
  • Focused on iterative assessment trust and value vs course completion certificate
  • Life-long behavioral lesson shelf-life vs. diminished value as course version or content changes
  • Transferrable skill into every facet of life and work vs. direct applicability to specific purpose
  • Pay-as-you-go and assess for value attainment vs. pay-up-front for single event

“If people are anxious, uncomfortable, or fearful, they do not learn”
–(Perry, 2006)

I’ve Got My Emotional Awareness…Now What?

Building this type of awareness is a journey, so if you’re holding your hand out for a certificate of completion, don’t bother. The good news is that when you’ve started to build this awareness, it can become a great cycle. A little struggle, a little growth. As it repeats, you as the student start to look at others differently with more recognition of what they are going through based on your own experiences. You are more attuned to their reactions to words and actions, keener to how to best approach a problem or a conversation, more prone to let or help a situation defuse before attempting to “fix” it. This is empathy in action.

If you haven’t read between the lines of the previous paragraphs to recognize what’s happening, here is my perspective on how you are transforming…

  1. You learned about yourself, and you developed an awareness that you did this.
  2. You continued the process, achieving additional awareness, regardless of the presence of negative consequences…thus a net-positive experience.
  3. Your perspectives of others changed as a result of your own growth.

“Experiencing one’s self in a conscious manner–that is, gaining self-knowledge–is an integral part of learning.”
— Joshua M. Freedman
 

  1. Your change in perspective led to changes in how you work with others, bringing a certain non-intimate closeness to your interactions.
  2. Your closer exchanges brought forth empathy and shared experiences developed
  3. The shared experiences formed bonds that built stronger working relationships.
  4. Those around you received benefit; comfort in your approach and success in results as you worked with them.
  5. Your thought process maturation has accelerated. You’re asking questions that you wouldn’t have thought to ask, factoring in complexities and concerns that never occurred to you before, recognizing potential obstacles before they appear to surprise you and seeking out answers that have new importance.

Transferability

The last item in the list of benefits is REALLY important. It’s integral and directly aligned to points when people are able to make mental jumps in their lives and careers. It’s also integral to the message this website brings, which is that when you grow in your thought process and the way in which you approach it, you afford yourself the ability to grow in your ability to learn and build personal capability. That is the difference between business analysis and business architecture.

 

References
Dirkx, J. (2006). Engaging emotions in adult learning: A Jungian perspective on emotion and transformative learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 109, 15-26. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Shuck, et al., (2013). Emotions and Their Effect on Adult Learning: A Constructivist Perspective

 

 

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You’ll KNOW Mentoring is Right for You When….

  1. You realize you are completing coursework and getting certified, but not fulfilled. Academic and even crash courses are built for classrooms, not individuals. You take courses that are worthwhile at the time for a specific skill and as the course is developed for the masses.

Mentoring is training customized to the individual and is equal parts listening/learning and dialog/application. It deals with emotions, emotional intelligence, personal obstacles and capabilities and personal goals and aspirations.

  1. You are ready to squirm in your chair. It is extremely uncomfortable in the early days, because you have decided to bare your soul for the benefit of very targeted guidance. This is not an easy decision, but your thought process has matured to the point that you have self-awareness and realization that you’ve probably blocked yourself unnecessarily. Way to go!

Mentoring is only productive and transformative when built on trust. You MUST be able to trust your mentor to tell he or she the things that make you vulnerable. Until you do, you cannot have the conversation about which of those items are irrational fears and which are real and need some work.

  1. You are ready to slay your dragons! You WILL meet the things in life that bring you fear, shame, embarrassment and angst. It will start as a professional conversation, but you’ll soon realize there is not a work YOU and a NOT WORK YOU, just a YOU.

Only when you are ready to talk about those things can you quantify them, add color to them, see them for what they are, understand what triggers them, understand how you typically react….and realize there is a better way.

  1. You are thoroughly engaged in the mentoring session, and constantly applying the lessons in new situations to grow away from the session. The mentoring session is great and invigorating, but it’s not where you learn. Business analysis and life lessons are learned by experience.

Mentoring provides the framework of the lessons in the sessions, but the time between session is where repetitive application in real life occurs. THAT’s where the light clicks on! You have to be ready to do some offline work reading, writing, thinking and doing.

  1. Your thought process and maturity has evolved to seek long-lasting lessons that pay dividends based on your efforts. You have realized that you are your greatest advocate and “ace-in-the-hole”.

You know now that there is a way through the most difficult obstacles that you have encountered and are able to lay out a plan of attack that is predicated on your own dedication, which builds the learning experience to position you for goal attainment. You realize that this enhanced perspective is key to learning things in different ways and applying them toward harder problems.

Is this YOU? Have you arrived? Then I want YOU to join me in applying mentoring to help achieve your success! Sign Up Now!

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Please! Go Screw Something Up!

I was asked this week to provide a statement to the broader community of participants in a mentoring program I am involved in (not mine). In thinking about what I wished to say, I accidentally reminded myself of a thought I haven't uttered in some time, yet it's ingrained in the mentoring I do....and it happens to be the title of this post.

We're terrified to fail, you know, and it's a shame.

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Failing is one of the best learning mechanisms we can have, yet we do everything we can to avoid it like the plague. Often, we learn best when fall the hardest, because those situations have the most vivid, longest lasting memories.

Atychiphobia is the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure, a type of specific phobia. As with many phobias, atychiphobia often leads to a constricted lifestyle, and is particularly devastating for its effects on a person's willingness to attempt certain activities. --wikipedia.com

What about fear of trying?

Neophobia, cainotophobia or cainophobia is the fear of anything new, especially a persistent and abnormal fear. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine. --wikipedia.com

I would just like to reiterate our thought for the day. Our Edict! I give you permission to...

Go screw something up!

By the time you are done screwing something up, you will have tried. I applaud you for trying! You have tested the waters, failed in your endeavor, admonished yourself harder than anyone else could, and learned both the steps to performing the task incorrectly AND potentially the avoidance path for the next time. If you are reading this after making a mistake, you will also by now realize that you are alive and life has NOT ended. Not to minimize the significance of some failures, nor debilitating conditions described above, but we often are so hard on ourselves anticipating the failure that hasn't happened yet, we actually talk ourselves right out of adding to discourse, changing behavior, attempting a new activity or completing a task. We do this so well and so fast that we sometimes don't even realize that we are doing it, and it takes over before we are even close to being aware of it. If you fave failed, you made it through to the other side! Most importantly, if you have failed, you have started the process of conquering your fears. Why am I talking about this? As business analysts, we're on the front line of discovery and engagement with our customers during some of the earliest and toughest stages of projects. As you know, we interact with everyone from helpful SMEs to Type A Executives with lots of power (and they know it). Allowing our fears to manifest can be a huge problem, because we're expected to actively deliver information, analysis, identified risk, and dialog that helps customers make decisions. Any of this sound familiar....? I can't. I shouldn't. What if they don't like what I say? That's stupid. They'd hate that. I'd lose my job. You idiot! I could never...That's not my job. That's his problem. I have no idea. I wouldn't know. She hates me. He thinks I'm a moron. My opinion has no value......and on and on and on....  
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Here are a few steps to help turn it around....

  1. Have a conversation....with yourself. If your fears can get the better of you, make it a practice to make you tell yourself what you are afraid of. Say it in your head and out loud. Hear it. Then ask what could happen if your fear becomes a reality. What are the true consequences and are they as severe as those your mind envisions? The internal dialog provides you a forum to safely talk things out and safely validate that you have a fear.
  2. Really listen to yourself respond. Being mindful of your own voice and the emotions that lock you up and out of being able to be your best is extremely powerful and can lead you through resolving anger, calming fears and making hard decisions with confidence. There must be something to all this.....Take a run through the links above, and notice that there is attention to and teachings in this subject from bloggers; journalists; professionals; educators and spiritualists.
  3. Grant permission for your fear and/or to fail. Encourage it. The acknowledgement that you CAN fail and it's OK takes the power away from it. The next step puts you into control.
  4. Make your failure plan in writing. When the time comes that you realize you've screwed something up, plan out what you will say to yourself, what you will say to others who point it out, what steps (generic) you will take to rectify AND how you will capture the learning experience. No matter the outcome, you will have something to take away from the experience.
  5. Finally, take a look around. The rest of us are right there with you with the same fears and struggles to look good and not show weakness. Ugh! It's exhausting, too.
Learning about how to empower yourself to fail and conquer your fears is a great opportunity to grow, but with it comes responsibility and consequences....good and bad. Your new found empowerment isn't an open door to confidently burst into a meeting and point out the fallacies of the company's mission statement or the courage to tell your boss what you think of her. It's a way to allow yourself the confidence and courage to have a voice and opinion that has meaning when used properly and respectfully. Mentoring often highlights situations in which completely competent, capable people/professionals have every means to accomplish what they seek to do, yet they are stuck. We stand in our own way far more than we imagine others standing before us. Move aside! You have places to go! If you are open to sharing your fears and how you conquered them, special advice from others that has stuck, and how you felt when you beat the beast off your back....you would provide great encouragement through your story!  

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Paradigm Shifts for Business Analysis

We’ve all heard the arguments, and probably started a few as well, about the fact that business analysts are so much more than scribes, requirements clerks, documentation writers and the like. Yet the perception and utilization of BAs in this regard continues to permeate the profession. In looking at the responsibilities and actions of the general BA population, there are signs that may point to why this continues to be a problem. In 2011, Glenn Brule wrote a series of articles that discussed the progress ion of the BA career path and the shifts in focus, as well as skills needed for the changing competencies.

Transitioning into a senior role, the BA is acutely aware and well seasoned in technical skills and begins to flex business skill muscle in enterprise analysis-type activities, e.g., writing a business case, understanding business needs, conducting capability analysis, defining solution scope.

Glenn R Brule, Are Business Analysts in Danger of Becoming Extinct? Part 2

Continue reading “Paradigm Shifts for Business Analysis”

Essentially, Brule was highlighting his foresight into the fact that business analysts had a path to remain relevant in their roles if they understood some basic phases of the BA profession and the general skill sets required for each. He painted a high-level picture that provided a road map for a practitioner to start with, as a basis for moving forward. Concurrently, the proliferation of the popularity of certifications such as ITIL and TOGAF have gained significant momentum while new organizations continue to form up, mature and provide a home to aspiring business architects. This year at the Building Business Capability conference in Las Vegas, there was noticeable on the push to add strategy to the mindset of the BA’s pursuit of excellence through exposure to more strategic process discussion and architecture modeling platforms. In fact, Sparx Systems we quick to espouse a recent partnership with IIBA to cement the importance being placed on the topics. Even more exciting is the increase in volume of blogs and articles peppering the Internet that promote these shifts.

But! There are two major things that I think are missing in the drive to mature the profession. The first is the recognition of the business analyst as a strategic analytical weapon by organizations, key business units in the organization and managers of individual or groups of business analysts.

While Enterprise Architecture is seeing a healthy foothold growing in many organization, that doesn’t always equate to the parallel creation of business architecture capability. Business architecture units are still relatively new ventures in the same organizations as additional focus on the business is added. Therefore, it might not be unreasonable to assume that good visibility in to the solution and technical architecture is present, yet there are holes tracing it back to strategic need and value statements, assessing fully the organization impacts or determining the level of change management.

“The crucial element is how well the Business Architects are integrated with the other architects and with the analysts. In many cases Business Architecture was within the Enterprise Architecture function – as an aside…”
What is Business Architecture?
By Allen Brown, President and CEO,
The Open Group

Additionally, the word “solution” in many instances has somehow come to signify the technical product delivered to the customer in project execution, and I think that is a massive and dangerous proposition. The dumbing down of “solution” (which is not a comment on the high value of technical awareness and delivery) makes it easy to simply forget that the technical product should be assessed against the organization that will install it and turn it on. Without clarity on what will happen to existing process, resources, workload shifts, data flows and the need for communication and training, there is significant failures to occur. Combine the project execution missteps to understand business impacts with lack of business architecture viewpoints, stakeholders and interaction points; the business understanding becomes even muddier. The best thing to resolve this obstacle has already started, and that is the aforementioned increased dialog.

I think the second major point is more problematic. After watching many, many business analysts, reading the content in the BABOK (all three of these fine, fascinating tomes of career non-fiction) and also reading the general flavor of dialog in the community; and managing, mentoring and guiding business analysts, I’m convinced that the younger, less experienced analysts today are short-changed by focus on tactical execution of requirements identification and techniques without realization on the value of those skills in a strategic setting. So, for those of who just choked on hot coffee reading that, I’m NOT espousing that we stop understanding and analyzing content to produce great requirements. Our current jobs are more essential than ever. I am stating that training and cultural awareness that targets our up and coming BAs earlier on the value of their current skills and how to better apply them in different scenarios must gain more traction. The IIBA® has taken a huge step forward in the new BABOKv3 by introducing the Core Concept Model (page 12) to all business analysts. The model applies a framework to every action we will perform and uses it mentally chop up and reframe the work we are doing and the questions we are asking. This is the first piece of the strategic puzzle communication, but it must be followed by reinforcement of more experienced analysts guiding the professionals who will take over in the coming years. While the collaborative dialog HAS increased, I’m hoping that there will be movement, by our own hands, to increase the clarity and applicability of the BA value into enterprise and business architecture.

Let’s start here.

IIBA President and CEO, Stephen Ashworth, in closing remarks at BBC 2015, put out a call to the community to give back and add value. I would like to propose this as one starting point for us to put some focus on. I’d like to also add anything I can to what may be the first major movement of business analysis since the IIBA formed a qualifying body for certifications and standards. This will be a recurring topic in this blog from time to time and part of my mentoring regimen with willing participants.

Interested in everything you wish to add to this conversation, good or bad.

 

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