Discovery : Extraordinary results from everyday learning

Discovery : Extraordinary results from everyday learning

By John Drysdale

I like the way the author presented different ways to take advantage of learning opportunities in our daily lives. Today people in business have too little time to learn, or at least that’s how it seems.

Enlightment has its own intrinsic value, but its contribution to our lives require application of knowledge. When we make connections, for example, we understand why a character in the movie felt betrayed by her friend and what had happened in the relationship. Understanding the “how” opens up the possibility of transferring that learning to another area of activity. Recognizing the patterns of behaviour in one sphere of life offers the possibility of applying them in another.


Sometimes cinema/movies can give us a different experience. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) is one of the greatest films of all time, and there is a scene that provides a perfect summary of stakeholder management. He explains :
I’ll never forget the advice given by Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) to his son, Michael (Al Pacino) to “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” We have a natural tendency to spend time with people we like and avoid those we don’t. It’s not really about good guys and bad guys. In any organization, there will always be conflicts of interests. Rather than struggle with this we often try to work with people we like. We need to talk to those we think we have less in common with, to ensure they don’t damage our business goals and that they understand what we want and vice versa.

Music store

When David turned 50, he decided to learn the classical guitar. At the outset, his teacher played a beautiful and somewhat complicated Spanish piece and suggested to David’s amazement that he would be able to play it too. His teacher works on the principle “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for life.”  Here’s how David described the impact that his teacher had on him :

Learning to play classical guitar in middle age, and being taught by someone who teaches how to play, using his insight to my ability and personal motivation, had taken me to places I had not imagined posible.

Some other insight he discovered as a result of learning a new musical instrument in middle age:
It is a learning curve, not a spike. You need to make mistakes at the bottom of the curve to get up there. You learn most of your skills early and as you get older, there is less you have to learn. It doesn’t mean you stop learning or don’t need to keep learning as you get older. Your foundation skills as a professional, though, the things you must learn to do your job satisfactorily, are acquired early. It is easy to forget that it took you time to learn. When I saw the first draft of a business plan produced by a subordinate I thought,oh God, I’ll have to do it myself. But then I realized it would be far better to coach the individual what and how to do it, and I did. I gained an important lesson about how I can manage people better, as a result of the challenges I faced in my leisure.

Sports club

Sailing has stretched my capabilities across a wide spectrum, and has provided challenges which are as much about character as about seamanship. When you are at sea, you can’t transfer staff in and out, you’ve got what you’ve got and have to make the best of it. The situations I have found myself in at sea have tested my judgement in a way that doesn’t happen often in an office environment.

For example I can recall bringing a boat back to England from Portugal. In the middle of the night, there was a gale blowing. We were 200 miles from land and I could hear a clanking sound below. I fear the worst! The rudder! What should I do? If I wakened the crew, I would have created panic. I kept my cool under the pressure of responsbility. I went through the boat and check it all out thoroughly. Imagine my relief when I discovered it was a gas bottle that had come free from its fastening and was banging against the side. Faced with that kind of pressure, it puts the challenge of preparing a sales plan into perspective and consequently reduces the associated stress. Playing sports can help develop specific skills that can be applied in business.

Art gallery

There are two different hemispheres of the brain that control different way of thinking. The right brain is visual, looks at the big picture. The left brain is verbal and processes information in an analytical and sequential way. Formal education traditionally favors the left brain modes of thinking. Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t always follow that all those who do best at school become the most successful? At school in the early years at least, children can win prizes with strengths primarily in left brain thinking.


Henry V is the Shakespeare story that offers more learnings about inspiration than any other. In peave there’s nothing so becomes a man. As modest stillness and humility, But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger.

It takes a different type of energy to be successful in war than it does in peacetime. In describing the characteristics of peaceful behaviours, he reminds htem of the outcome of the victory in war, which makes it all worth it.


Community Links refers clients to Lovells, which then provides a lawyer to represent them at the appeal hearing, presenting new medical evidence. Yasmin Waljee, who is Pro Bono Manager of Lovells, describes how involvement in the scheme assists in the development of young lawyers.

Community Link trainings and practical experience of representing Community Links’ clients complements our formal training and builds on the professional skills of our young litigators. As a result, they develop their judgement and practice, in particular with regard to case strategy, client file management and advocacy.


Martin, a manager with an international bank, makes the point that his children challenge him to put himself into perspective. He explains :
As you live your life, there is a risk that you become disconnected with what’s important to others, as you establish your own perspective on the world. Even if you empathize with others, you realize that you have become more egocentric. And children are extremely egotistical. They cry when they are hungry. They don’t discuss it with you. They fill their diapers because that is what they need to do. They are not concerned about the impact on anyone else. My children continually remind me, and in doing so warn me, of my tendency to become egocentric and lose sight of what is important to others and the impact I have on them.

The author has recommended to keep a journal. Only write in it when you are moved to. During some weeks, I make two or three entries in my own journal. Then four or more weeks can pass with no entries, followed by several pages in one day. To help your own discovery, write down what you are noticing in your work, in your daily travels, conversations, hobbies and interests. Record what you are moved to write about. This should include what you are noticing about your response to situations or the response of others to you and to situations. Then spend a few moments reading what you have written and ask yourself :

1) What is this telling me?
2) What patterns do I recognize?
3) Are events repeating themselves?
4) Have I been here before?
5) What is this saying to me about what I can do differently?
6) What can I discover?
7) What new places can I go to?
8) What new things can I do?
9) Will I ?
10) When?
11) What similarities do I see in different situations and experiences?
12) What does this tell me?

Only ask the questions you are moved to ask. The important point to bear in mind about discovery that it is your journey. You are completely in control and will decide where to go, how much attention to pay to each place, and what you will do next.


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