You either win or you learn

This is one of Doug Avery’s many powerful one-liners that have spoken to me in my recent read of his book The Resilient Farmer.  His full sentence reads:

“We’re all losers at something and we are all winners at something. But you only lose if you don’t learn.

You either win or you learn.”

Now I am generally not a fan of language like losers and winners but I found this sentence reassuring as I came to a decision last week.  I have been promoting some public workshops to build collaborative fitness in the urban development sector.  The aim was to run the workshops in September and November but here I was in late August and the registration numbers just weren’t stacking up.

As I spoke with various stakeholders in the diverse world of urban development, I heard many things.  I heard that the need for collaborative fitness is accepted, that the interest in building skills and mindsets to collaborate well is high and that there is a willingness to get a collaboration specialist like me to help out.

What was not so evident was the necessary space (time, mindset and resources) for clients to leave their immediate work systems and participate in a public workshop.

So I have learned. I am going TO my clients more rather than expecting they can come out and learn in a public setting.  I have taken on a mix of projects that combine facilitation, training and coaching with most of them being run in-house.  I have cancelled my two public workshops.

Has this experience been a loss?  I think not as I have learned (and re-learned) a number of things, not the least being the importance of holding strategic and tactical thinking at the same time.

When working in complexity it is crucial to keep the overall strategic purpose firm whilst being nimble and flexible with your tactics.

My overall purpose is to support the build of collaborative fitness in all sectors so that desirable and sustainable outcomes can be cultivated for New Zealand.  The tactics I take to achieve this purpose will move with the energy of my clients.

Many a trainer has had to cancel an event and I have not given up on the medium of public workshops where a diversity of stakeholders can learn and practice their collaborative fitness.  Right now however I understand the importance of supporting clients where they are at in their systems.

I am sure there will be more wins and more learning ahead. Having the ‘win or learn’ frame has helped me make the most of my recent experience.  I wonder how it might help you?

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