Friday, February 29, 2008


The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

I'm Competing With Myself

Since launching my blog in April of 2007, I believe that I have never posted fewer than 16 entries per month, and so I've been sitting here, cranking them out on this bonus day of February.

Sadly, I will not get there this month unless I allow myself to rip off excerpts of my life history that I submitted on Monday and plunk them down here. I am ill. My cold hurts: inside my ears, the glands on either side of my throat....My nose has a mind of its own and my forehead is barely containing the explosive ache, traveling up through my sinuses.

All right, I'll cheat just a bit and add one excerpt, but first:

Some Context

The life history is structured around my learning history and what I think it meant, as well as how I think it informed my leadership. The premise, I was telling a friend with whom I work earlier today, is that to the extent I build self-awareness, I'll be a better leader, and also, if I revisit my learning history, I can gain insight now as an adult educator into what motivates adults to learn.

The Excerpt

...The informal learning that meant most to me came from books; there were three that I considered the most instructive works I’ve ever read: Creative Writing, a textbook from 1977, and I didn’t even remember where I found it, but it excited me about the practices of creative writers (and I still have it; it’s sitting in my lap as I type this), and How the Hebrew Language Grew, which my college friend Marni’s mother gave to me prior to my departure for Israel. That lucid book helped me understand Hebrew grammar like I never had prior in eight years of studying it.

The third most instructive book for me was William Zinnser’s Writing to Learn, where he suggested that we learned the most about [new] topics through writing about them. I also did valuable, informal learning about desire by reading...Annie on My Mind, a novel, which featured two girls, falling in love with each other in high school.

My early schooling was mostly painful, with the exception of a couple of teachers....Rabbi Kosowsky, of blessed memory, appreciated and encouraged my creativity, and Mrs. Honan, also of blessed memory, delivered such creative lessons herself that she made school exciting, like the time we learned about early ship navigation techniques and she had all of us create astrolabes out of paper-plates, string and little, lead weights....

Note: I just googled "Rabbi Kosowsky" and his son came up; we were classmates for a time.

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