What the Wright Bros Teach Us About Passion

and applying it.

What the Wright Bros Teach Us About Passion

Making Difficult Decisions

What we can learn from the man who cured Leukemia

Making Difficult Decisions

Growing After Graduation

4 ways to keep pushing yourself

Growing After Graduation
Startup Stock Photos

During my morning Twitter session, I noticed Quartz published this article in response to a new report by ZenithOptimedia on how much media we consume daily. The study throws down the numbers on how much time we’re consuming media in some form of internet browsing, television, magazine, or newspaper– revealing that apparently we all have full-time jobs as Media Consumption Specialists (Mom is so proud). That’s right, we’re spending 8 hours a day taking in the wonders of the internet, television, and the occasional magazine. I can’t say I’m shocked by that number, although I would never want to see a running counter of exactly how much time I spend on the internet- the thought makes me a bit sick.

When it comes to consuming 8 hours a day of media, one must wonder: So what? Does it count for anything? We’re consuming all of this information and entertainment a day, but are you tracking what you’re consuming? Take 5.7 seconds to think about the last week and everything you watched or read. My guess is it was a week comprised of podcast episodes, documentaries, YouTube videos, some Wired and Quartz articles, and binge watching Silicon Valley– was it all a waste?

No way. I’d throw down a pretty penny to bet that you learned something from most pieces of media you consumed (as far as for the educational value of animal Vines, I can’t vouch for that). The point is, media can teach us- and we should be measuring and tracking all of that learning.

Here’s the thing: If you’re spending even a fraction of those 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week consuming articles that may help you with your job, or teach you something about personal finance, or leadership, or even fixing a broken faucet in your house- ALL of that learning matters. You’re progressing and it should count for something.

The beauty of the internet is the vast amount of information at our disposal, and letting all that learning happen without recognition is a shame. I believe in a world where a future job interview would consist in part of talking about what you learned from the most recent 6 months of your media consumption, and how you applied said learning to your life and work.

Degreed also believes in that future, and offers all of us the ability to track and score everything we’re learning. Formal and informal, YouTube and classroom, articles and textbooks– you can score and measure all your learning to get a full picture of what you know. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t clock in 40 hours a week without getting a paycheck for your efforts, why would you learn for even a portion of 40 hours a week and not have a way to track, measure, and validate what you know. For those of us that aren’t engaged in formal learning, those hours add up, and it’s eye-opening to discover the different topics you’re learning the most about.

Degreed profiles are free, and if you’re in the business of media consumption -and according to the data, we all are- I suggest you get a profile and start tracking what you’re consuming. It’s time to make ALL learning count.

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What are your thoughts on media consumption and education? What do you see for the future of how much media we view a day? Tweet your thoughts @Degreed

Quartz article with data on the ZenithOptimedia report can be found here

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Being only a few years removed from college, I have a lot of friends who are currently going through the process of graduating and choosing their next step in life. I also have a couple close friends who made that decision a few years ago and are now struggling with the fact that, in their view, they may have chosen unwisely. Charting a career course is difficult and confusing for almost everyone. As often as not, asking the right questions is as difficult as finding the right answers (if not more so).

Most of us have some idea that career success comes from some combination of ability (What am I good at?), passion (What do I love doing?), and pay (How can I make the most money?). In my experience the most pivotal is ability. Passion and money are great, but if you want to know what career path will make you both happy and wealthy, you need to start by asking yourself “What am I really good at?” This may seem intuitive, but in my experience it is anything but. Indeed, I came to my own fork in the road a couple years ago, and came very close to making the wrong choice.

My Experience

In college, I studied communication sciences with the intention of becoming an audiologist. Audiology is a secure field with plenty of high-paying jobs. However, between my junior and senior year I had taken a summer job working in social strategy for a large fitness company. I immediately realized that I was good at it. As time went on, I started to realize that I was very good at it. I started to think I could make a career out of it.

But when I graduated, I seriously considered going back to get my masters in audiology and reverting back to that career path. It had been my plan all throughout college; could I really just abandon it? Especially for a career track in social media that, at the time, seemed like it might be a dead end. I asked one of my good friends what I should do and he gave me some great advice:

“Jeremy,” he said, “you have a gift for social. Don’t let that go to waste.”

Despite a number of concerns, I decided to continue in social media. Two years in, I view that decision as a financial, personal, and career success: My employer truly values my work, I’m enjoying it more than ever, and I’m making good money.

Ability Leads to Passion

Choosing a career you are passionate about is very important. What I have found is that people who choose to do what they excel at are almost always the most passionate about their work.  The truth is that interests wax and wane. I know people who have dream jobs working for their favorite sports teams who sometimes get burned out on those interests for a little while. That’s something that happens to everyone. At those times, it can be very difficult to keep the passion alive.

The passion that comes from being good at your job is different than interest. It stems from being able to take pride in what you do, and from being frequently recognized. It comes from winning. We are biologically hard-wired to love winning. You don’t have to be successful for very long before you find yourself very passionate about that thing. I’ve noticed that my friends are much more likely to be passionate about basketball if they’re tall. I doubt that’s a coincidence. Think about your own passions. Are you particularly good or knowledgeable at those things that you are passionate about? You probably are.

How to find what you’re good at

Many people want to work in an area where they excel, but have trouble figuring out what that is when it comes to actually choosing a career. I have found one question to be the most helpful in figuring that out. Ask yourself, “What is the most successful I have ever been in my life?” Look for particular accomplishments, not general abilities. A good answer would be “I won the spelling bee in 4th grade”, “I was elected student body president in high school” or “I was able to talk my friend down from committing suicide and help him turn around his life.” Bad answers would be “I’m a good studier” or “I’m a people person.”

After you have identified moments of accomplishment, try to think of ways that you could recreate similar circumstance in your work life. Too often, I see people thrashing around with their own self-image of who they are supposed to be, rather than objectively evaluating their past results. They get an idea in their head and it’s difficult to let go. For example, I have a friend who insisted that his greatest strength was his creativity. I asked him what led him to believe that and he was unable to name a significant creative idea or project that he had produced. You will be able to avoid this type of self-deception by finding concrete moments of accomplishment in your past.

In identifying your career options, past performance is the best indicator of future results that you have. If you can figure out what you have been good at, you will discover what you will be good at. And once you start down that path, you’ll be on your way toward more passion, more money, more recognition, and ultimately more happiness.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn, read it here. Check out Jeremy Nef on Twitter or LinkedIn

In the ‘Putting Learners First’ Webinar, VP of Product Marketing, Todd Tauber dived into the problems with L&D approaches, what it’ll take to start putting learners first, and how to start rewiring L&D to provide what people and employers need. In Part II of the Webinar Recap: ‘Putting Learners First’ we’ll dive into what it takes to start putting learners first. Read Part I: Why It’s Time to Rethink L&D Approaches here.

1. Start putting learners first
We think that the most important shift to make here is about mindsets; it’s putting learners not just at the center, but at the beginning. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Pretty much everyone in L&D recognizes that most learning doesn’t happen inside classrooms or learning management systems (LMSs).
– The 70:20:10 learning framework – which says only 10% of learning comes from formal training, 20% from other people and 70% from experiences on-the-job – is almost 20 years old. It’s amazing, then, to see how far away most corporate L&D teams are.

The first step toward recovery is recognizing that you have a problem. When CLOs and their teams acknowledge that this is, in fact, a problem, then they start approaching a lot of things differently. They also start investing their time and budget money very differently.

2. Stop trying to command and control, and start empowering

A big one is the role and definition of L&D itself.

If you believe, for example, that the role of the organization’s learning team is to manage training and development, then you make some very different choices about some very basic questions:

Who’s responsible for driving L&D activity – HR and L&D or employees and their managers?
When and where does learning happen – on a schedule at work or anytime, anywhere?
What and why do people learn – for operational efficiency and compliance or to build strategic capabilities and performance?
How do they learn – mainly through formal classes and online courses or in the flow of their work?

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Janice Burns, the CLO at MasterCard, believes her team’s jobs are to be, “motivators and facilitators more than anything else.” And as a result, they prioritize providing people with the tools, resources and access they need to do their jobs better.

3. Stop making learning one-size-fits-all, and start offering choices
Thinking that way has prompted MasterCard to experiment with all kinds of new, unconventional approaches to learning, development and performance improvement.

Examples include:
– Creating animated role plays and games to teach new hires – especially recent college grads – compliance.
– Pairing short videos with quizzes to get new, external IT hires up to speed on the payments industry so they can do their jobs better.
– Invitations for 5-minute tutorials on people management skills directly into leaders’ calendars.
– Producing scheduled, 3 to 6-week blended learning journeys to get product managers up to speed on innovation and entrepreneurship techniques, and to diffuse infuse their marketing managers with up-to-date digital skills.

MasterCard still has an LMS and course catalog, but now they’re also acknowledging that they have an incredibly diverse workforce spread around the world – who all want and need different things. MasterCard segments those people into logical groups and then they design, develop and deliver differentiated solutions based on what makes sense for them.

By doing that, they’re giving learners as well as L&D professionals choices. Guess what? It’s working.

4. Stop making learners have to, and start making them want to.

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Something else happens when you approach L&D from the learners’ perspectives: You tend to focus more effort on the things they care about – like leadership, soft-skills and sales. Coincidentally, these are also the things that enable strategy and drive business performance.

That doesn’t mean you don’t do the operational and compliance stuff – for example on desktop applications or proprietary processes or generic training for industry certifications. Of course you still do those things, they are still important. Higher-performing L&D organizations – the ones who are better aligned with business priorities and who deliver more effective learning more efficiently – make it a point to do them smarter.

Takeaway 2
Modernizing workplace learning demands some big shifts in how we think about L&D. And those shifts start with putting learners first.

 

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Here’s the full Webinar: Putting Learners First

 

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On May 12 in our Webinar titled “Putting Learners First” VP of Product Marketing Todd Tauber discussed how the balance of power in learning and development is shifting from HR and L&D to employees and managers. Here’s why we think its finally time to start rethinking L&D approaches and priorities.

1. L&D teams are struggling to connect with learners
People’s #1 job concern is obsolescence. 60% of workers – Millennials and non-Millennials alike – think the skills they have now will NOT be what they need in 3 years (Oxford Economics / SAP, 2020 Workforce). Learning and development are essential. However, in survey after survey, those same workers say the education and training they’re getting at work is not preparing them for whatever’s next.

What’s happening? There are two things are going on here:
– A lot of people simply don’t have access to training; less than half of college grads got any formal training in their first jobs, for example.
-The bigger issue is that a lot of the opportunities people do have are not well connected to their jobs, career plans or work habits.

2. Conventional L&D is too slow to keep-up with learning needs
The proof of that is in the data. Up and down the career path, organizations say they don’t have enough people with the right knowledge and skills.
– Almost 60% of employers think new college graduates are not adequately prepared for the workforce, and many of those kids agree!
– That skills gap balloons as people move into management and leadership roles. 74% of companies report persistent shortages of talented managers.
– 51% of organizations say they don’t have a strong bench of executives.

Why is this happening? The nature of work is changing:
– Routine tasks are being automated. More and more jobs require primarily creative thinking and problem solving skills, not just the ability to follow directions. As an example, think about machine operators. They’re not just pulling levers and pushing buttons anymore- they’re programming and monitoring robots.
-Everything is changing constantly. The half-life of many skills these days is just 2.5 to 5 years. Sales and marketing is another prime example. Data, software, social media and e-commerce have fundamentally changed how people buy everything from books and clothes to enterprise software and jet engines. Those changes and the effects are still unfolding.

Products, competition and regulations can all change in a matter of weeks. Yet, it still takes 5 to 12 weeks to create just one hour of interactive e-learning. Multiply that across a typical company with dozens of job roles at multiple levels, and it’s clear that L&D can’t keep up.

3. Traditional L&D is out of sync with how people really learn
What people learn is only half the equation, though. The other half is how they keep their skills sharp. Traditional L&D practices are stuck, stubbornly, in the past.
– More than 75% of what L&D teams do is still formal training, mostly in classrooms, with instructors. While a growing portion of that is virtual classrooms and self-paced online courses, that misses the point.

-Less than ¼ of workers say they’ve completed an entire course – of any kind – in the last 24 months.

Meanwhile, more than 70% of people say they’ve learned something work-related from an article, video or book this week.

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As BP’s director of learning innovation and technology, Nick Shackleton-Jones, puts it: Most L&D organizations are only beginning to think about shifting from courses to performance support. Meanwhile, employees already rely on their networks and Google to get most of what they need informally, in the moment. And they’re starting to integrate apps into the way they work, too.

4. Learners are now empowered to take control of their own learning
The above disconnects are turning into a big problem for a lot of L&D teams because employees and their managers are increasingly empowered – largely through the Internet – to take control of their own development. If they don’t get what they need and want from their L&D or HR business partners, they’ll just go get it themselves. Many already do that. Technology training is probably the best example:
– Over the last 5 years, Chief Learning Officers have cut IT training nearly in half — from 9% of their spending to 5%. At the time when technology has become more critical to business than ever before!
– In response, Chief Technology Officers have almost doubled training, from 3% of their budgets to 5%. Keep in mind IT budgets are generally much bigger than L&D budgets.
– And on top of that, almost ⅔ of IT workers dug into their own pockets for training and certifications.

This is not limited to IT, though.
– 43% of workers say they look for learning opportunities outside their company at least half the time.

Takeaway

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The big takeaway in all this is that conventional L&D methods just aren’t responsive enough to keep up with today’s learners. So it’s time to try some new approaches. That starts with changing some pretty fundamental attitudes about the role and priorities of L&D organizations. You know the issues, and in Part II of the webinar recap we’ll make you ready to be part of the solution.

 

Here’s the full Webinar: Putting Learners First

 

I imagine if Ernest had a business card, it would read something like the title of this article. Allow me to explain.

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Antarctic Explorer

Ernest Shackleton was a master mariner whose goal in life was to adventure into the unknown. He literally wanted to go where no man had gone before: the South Pole.

In 1901, he put his money where his mouth was and joined an expedition bound for the Antarctic. To his great disappointment, Shackelton became seriously ill on the voyage. His dream would have to wait.

He tried again in 1907, but extreme weather forced him to cut his journey short again. In what can only be described as a supreme bummer, another explorer beat him to the punch only a few years later. Just like that, his dream of over ten years was dashed.

Devoted Dreamer

Down but not out, Shackelton was determined to up the ante on his previous goal. He wasn’t just going to reach the South Pole; he was going to cross the entire continent of Antarctica.

Shackelton knew this expedition was going to be far more dangerous than any of the previous. In fact, there are stories told of him placing an ad in the newspaper with the following copy:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.”

While most historians agree that Shackelton never did place the ad, the expedition went exactly as advertised.

Buckle up. It’s about to get real.

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Shackelton and his crew departed from South Georgia toward Antarctica aboard the ship Endurance on December 5, 1914. That was the last time they would set foot on land for the next 497 days.

Only a month into the voyage, the Endurance became wedged between miles of thick, floating ice. Knowing the ship would eventually succumb to the pressures of the ice, Shackelton and his crew abandoned ship and set up camp atop the floating ice. 497 long, cold days later, they made it to Elephant Island, which wasn’t exactly a paradise.

Frank Hurley, the official photographer of the expedition, gave his two cents about the island:

“Our wintry environment embodies the most inhospitable and desperate prospect imaginable.”

On a freezing island covered in ridiculous amounts of penguin crap, the men suffered from toothaches, frostbite, gangrene, infections, and mental and physical exhaustion.

Eventually, in an all-or-nothing, 16-day voyage on a small lifeboat, Shackelton and five of his men made it back to South Georgia. However, the crew’s problems were far from over. It wasn’t until August 30, 1916, after four attempts over more than three-months’ time, that Shackelton was finally able to return and rescue the 22 men stranded on Elephant Island.

Every one of the 28 men on the voyage survived the ordeal.

Shackelton may not have realized his dream, but his determination to overcome failure, his passion for exploring the unknown, and his devotion to the lives of his crew is something we can all learn from. Shackelton lived painfully true to the motto of his family: Fortitudine vincimus, which means, “By endurance we conquer.” The events of Shackelton’s voyage provide a solid source of hope for anyone who must endure any kind of hardship.

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As you can imagine, this short post comes nowhere close to describing the magnitude of the story. I highly encourage you to pick up Endurance: Shackelton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing or South by Ernest Shackelton.

 

Story facts were pulled from the following sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/ernest-shackleton-9480091#later-years

Endurance: Shackelton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

When it comes to Learning and Development approaches, it’s time to put the Learner first. Here’s a quick recap if you missed our May Webinar, catch up and tweet us any questions or comments @degreed.

Let’s start with why. You may notice some problems or feel a need for change within your processes. Here’s why we think it’s time to rethink L&D priorities:

First, L&D teams are struggling to form connections with their learners. Here are the numbers: 60% of workers think the skills they have now will not be what they need in 3 years. Learning and development are clearly essential, however, 85% of employees do not feel like the training they get at work is preparing them for their next position.

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Second, the landscape of work has changed- and most current L&D systems can’t keep up with what people need to know or how people like to learn and search out information. Skills are quickly changing, more jobs require primarily creative thinking and problem solving skills- not just the ability to follow directions. What learners need to know can change in a matter of weeks, but it takes 5-12 weeks to create just one hour of interactive learning.

Learners get work-related information from articles, videos, and books weekly while traditional L&D’s are still doing mostly formal training- classroom and instructor style.

These disconnects all result in learners taking control of their own learning. Conventional L&D methods aren’t working for today’s learners- it’s time to try new approaches.

Here are 4 helpful ways to make the shift in mindset and provide learners with the information and tools they need.

1. Start putting learners first. This is a big mindshift, it means to put learners not just at the center, but at the beginning. Where they learn from others and from experiences more than they do in formal training. When you acknowledge there’s a problem in the current process, you can start working towards a solution- and investing resources differently.

2. Stop trying to command and control- start empowering. After making the shift to put learners at the beginning you’ll start to answer these questions differently about the role of the L&D department:

-Who’s responsible for driving L&D activity – HR and L&D or employees and their managers?
– When and where does learning happen – on a schedule at work or anytime, anywhere?
– What and why do people learn – for operational efficiency and compliance or to build strategic capabilities and performance?
– How do they learn – mainly through formal classes and online courses or in the flow of their work?

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3. Stop making learning one-size-fits-all, and start offering choices.

Give learners choices on the types of content they can consume. Create different options- think short videos and quizzes, 5-minute tutorials on management skills, animated role plays, etc.

4. Stop Making Learners Have To- Start Making Them Want To.

Degreed_MayWeb_2Focus more effort on things learners care about-leadership, soft-skills and sales.  These are also the things that enable strategy and drive business performance. This doesn’t mean you need to stop operational and compliance stuff, it just means you need to make it a point to do them smarter.

Now that you’ve accessed the problem and had the mind-shift, it’s time to talk rewiring and getting to work.

The hard part: Doing the work to actually reinvent workplace learning. Transforming how L&D works all at once can be a huge job. It can take months and years, the key is not cost cutting and reorganizing, it’s investing time and money differently. Here are 4 tips for reinventing L&D.

1. Make it simpler to create (and curate) learning. Learning has shifted, it’s no longer broadcasted format, one-to-many. People are learning from crowdsourcing and collaborating, they’re learning many-to-many. A lot of learners need better tools for creating, curating, and sharing learning. Almost 90% of workers say sharing knowledge is an important or essential part of learning what they need for their jobs, yet only 1/3 of employers have invested in dedicated social learning systems.

2. Make it Faster to Find Learning. We’re all overwhelmed by how much information is out there, and we’re all impatient. If we don’t find what we need- and fast- we’ll move on. With so much learning content out there, it can add up to a lot of clutter.

3. Make it easier to access learning. Because making it faster to find the right content isn’t much use if your learner’s can’t access it. Make it mobile. More than half of workers say they would like to be able to access learning on mobile devices. While they may not all need it to do their jobs, they want it.

4. Make it possible to track all learning. Both L&D organizations and individual employees need better ways to track, measure, and value all of their learning. CLO’s feel the need and urgency to demonstrate the value of an organizations investment in L&D, but less than 30% of big companies capture much data on their informal learning activity. It’s awfully hard to manage L&D when you can’t see the whole picture.

It’s time to make a shift and take actions to empower learners with the right content and the right tools to learn, apply, and track it.  Here are the final 3 takeaways.

1. Conventional L&D methods just aren’t responsive enough to keep up with today’s learners or work landscape. It’s time to take new approaches

2. Modernizing workplace learning demands big shift in how we think about L&D- it starts with putting the learners first.

3. Putting learners first requires new, different, and better tools for:

-Creating and curating learning.
-Discovering and finding learning.
-Accessing learning.
-valuing learning.

And that means all kinds of learning- not just formal training. 

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What do you see in the future of L&D methods within organizations?

Degreed’s mission is to make all learning count, that’s why we make it easy for organizations and their people to discover, curate and track ALL their learning. For more information on how we do this check out get.degreed.com 

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This week hundreds of thousands of college grads will toss their caps and throw the gowns into storage boxes as they head towards the next stage of life: True Adulthood. A much needed break from years of classes, late night studying, and exams is well-earned, but what happens when the weeks slip into months and learning has abruptly ended?

After graduating, I experienced a stage of what felt like a great loss. I stepped into the shoes of my new full-time gig, I was learning there, but I was missing the push of learning and studying. This lack of learning stage left me feeling sad, and bored. Eventually I felt mentally stuck.

Growing our personal skills and understanding post-graduation shouldn’t be limited to the training and learning we do in our new jobs (if we receive an offer post-graduation). We should be poised to set and stick to personal goals to keep improving ourselves, even if the work doesn’t result in a grade or final exam. Here are some ideas on how to grow after graduation.

1. Set the schedule. As a graduate, you are forever free of 7am Geology class, but you’ll find the best use of your individual time if it’s structured. Figure out what time of the day you’re the most productive and focused. Set 30 minutes to 1 hour a day during that time that you can use to experience learning.

2. Learn something that may seem irrelevant. Here’s a crazy idea: having the freedom to literally learn about anything you want. Consider topics that may not help fuel your career right now. Study something that makes you excited. Remember the lecture in English that peaked your interest? Read more from that author. Study watercolor, search out a new coding or design skill (you can find tons of open courses online if you want more structured learning, get more info on that here).

3. Measure it and be accountable. It’s hard to be motivated to finish a goal if you’re not going to measure it. Gone are the days of finals, but all the learning you do should count for something. Sign up for degreed.com and start tracking what you know and what you’re learning. Set goals on the platform for weekly articles, videos, or books to keep you on track. Grab a friend and take a community class or start a book together- having someone else to keep you accountable will make habits stick.

4. Passion Projects. Find a way to apply your learning and integrate it with other passions. Designing a website, selling your product on Etsy, writing blog posts about the books you’re reading. Whatever activities you’re passionate about doing- apply what you’re learning to those. You’ll be excited to do it and it’ll help you retain what you’re learning.

Learning doesn’t have to stop after the graduation ceremony. There are many different ways to continue pursuing education post-graduation, the key is to tap into your desire to learn and fuel that desire in the right way.

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In the age of endless self-documentation and instant gratification, it’s easy to fake passion. If the thing you loved to do was widely believed to be impossible—or people called you a crackpot for trying— would you still do it?

In the late 1800’s, most people believed aeronautical engineers were crackpots. It was widely believed that man-powered flight was impossible. Airplane crashes made for great stories, and journalists were all over that. Who doesn’t love to hear about stupid people getting injured by jumping off roofs thinking they can fly? (cough cough Tosh.0, Ridiculousness, AFV, Jackass… not much has changed in the last 200 years.) But the fear of embarrassment didn’t stop everyone from trying to fly.

The Race For First In Flight

“If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance.” – Orville Wright

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Orville and Wilbur Wright worked as a team for most of their lives. They started with a printing company, and later opened a bicycle shop. It was the bicycle shop that eventually enabled the Wright Brothers to experiment with flight. But they weren’t the only ones.

In 1887, a man by the name of Samuel P. Langley began experimenting with flight.

Langley held the highest scientific office in the country, so of course the media had an eye on his work. It was Langley who initially inspired the Wright Brothers.

Langley had a full staff of employees working on his machines, which he called Aerodromes. By 1898, with the Spanish-American war on the horizon, the military decided to back Langley and help fund his project.

With financing of $70,000, the support of the U.S. military, and the prestige of the highest scientific office in the country, Langley built what he coined the Great Aerodrome.

When the day came in 1903 to show off the fruits of his five-year labors, the plane crashed into the Potomac on take off. The press had a heyday with Langley’s failure. Embarrassed by the ridiculing stories and the withdrawal of support from the military, Langley halted operations and gave up for good.

Nine days later, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers carried out the world’s first controlled, sustained powered flight. But at the time, no one even seemed to notice. In fact, they weren’t even recognized as the first to flight until 1942.

 

Don’t Play It Safe

While there were many things, including the decades long legal battles, that determined who got credit for being the first to flight, I would like to focus on one intriguing aspect of the story.

When it comes to your passion, it’s more risky to play it safe.

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Langley was interested in flight, and would have loved to be the first to do it. But I’m not so sure he was as dedicated as the Wright Brothers. Why do I think that?

All of Langley’s flights were over water.

It makes a lot of sense. If your plane has an issue and doesn’t fly as planned, the safest place to crash would be a body of water. It’s the safe thing to do.

I think playing it safe may have lost Langley the race.

The Wright Brothers focused on control. They had done the research on flying machines. In 1899, the brothers even wrote Langley at his position at the Smithsonian requesting access to his aeronautical research. They credited Langley and his research for having given them a “good understanding of the problem of flying.”

However, Orville and Wilbur understood that the challenge wasn’t in sustained powered flight alone, but in controlled, sustained powered flight. This is evident in the fact that they invented an airplane control system, and later spit flaps (to slow down a plane in a dive), that were both eventually patented.

All of the Wright Brothers’ test flights were performed on the dunes at Kitty Hawk.

No soft water landings if they messed up, so they needed to be able to control the plane once it was in the air.

It’s like in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises when Bruce Wayne had to get out of the pit. He couldn’t do it until he took off the safety rope and sacrificed everything.

Passion is something that will lead you down the road to the happiest, but also the hardest days of your life. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. You’ll have to sacrifice a lot, but in the end, it’s worth it.

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If you have a passion for something, you won’t care if you don’t get any likes when you post about it. You also don’t listen to the critics who try to score a quick laugh at your expense. You believe in yourself, get to work, and eventually prove the h8rz wrong.

The seatbelt light is off. Get up and do something great!

“Why don’t you cure leukemia?”

As a hematologist, this was the charge given to Emil Freireich when he arrived at the National Cancer Institute in 1955. He focused his work on children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Children with ALL suffer from severe bleeding. In the children’s leukemia ward it would get so bad that kids couldn’t eat because their mouths and noses were bleeding so badly. Freireich elaborated on the grim reality of the situation in a 2013 interview.

“These children literally bled to death. They drown in their own blood. Now they’re 4-10 years old, they don’t know what the hell is going on. It’s really horrible.at that time leukemia diagnosis were death certificates. Median lifespan was about 6-8 weeks and 100% of them were dead in 8 months.”

Freireich focused first on the problem of bleeding. He knew if he could at least stop the children from bleeding, he could give all his attention to finding a cure for the disease. When he believed he had an explanation and a remedy for the bleeding, he took it to his superiors. Freireich was told the idea wouldn’t work. He stood firm in his belief and decided to go against the better judgments of many of his superiors.

It worked. The children stopped bleeding.

Up until this time, chemotherapy had really only been done using a single chemical at a time. However, those chemicals were never strong enough to overcome the leukemia on their own. Freireich knew there had to be a better solution.

But if using one toxic chemical didn’t work, who in their right mind would ever think to use more than one—especially on children? No one. That’s why the children and their families needed someone who would try something “insane.”

Freireich had a theory that leukemia could be cured with the same method used in the treatment of tuberculosis—administering multiple drugs simultaneously. The problem was that the cytotoxins used for chemotherapy were harsher. There was more risk with possible side effects. Many leading hematologists, including the world’s expert in hematology, thought the humane thing to do was to forego treatment and create a comfortable environment for the children to meet their end. Why do anything to prolong or increase a child’s suffering?

Freireich didn’t feel the same way. He was going to fight for his kids. The children were going to die anyway. Why not try and help? He chose to discuss his theories openly with the parents of the children he was treating. The parents were in favor of him at least trying for a cure. With a green light from the parents, he began his trials.

Using a combination chemotherapy regimen with three different drugs administered simultaneously—each with a unique purpose—Freireich began to see improvement. But the kids were still dying. It wasn’t until he added a fourth drug to the mix that he found himself on the brink of a cure. The first child he tried his four-combination chemotherapy on was pushed to the brink of death. She suffered immensely from the treatment. She eventually recovered from the effects of the chemotherapy, but later died of an infection.

Freireich went back to the drawing board and made adjustments to the chemical doses. Remarkably, in the very next trial, he got it right. Freireich had cured a child of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Today, a childhood diagnoses of acute lymphoblastic leukemia has a 95% chance of attaining remission.”

Freireich doesn’t deny that concocting a super drug by combining four toxic drugs was insane. He had to make objective decisions that meant possibly killing his patients, because he knew that making those decisions was the only way a cure would ever be found—if one even existed.

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We all have instances in our lives where we can take the easy way out. There are choices that are easy and comfortable, and then there are choices that are difficult and require work.

“…our formulation of the ethics of research was the same as the ethics of getting out of a [sinking] boat, I mean, you just did what you could do…there weren’t any options.”

I invite you to evaluate your life right now. Are there sinking boats you should be getting out of? It’s certainly easier to sink with the boat than it is to swim for safety. Don’t let the ease of doing nothing stop you from swimming. Make the decision to do what you can do and get at it.

In addition, like Freireichs’ combination chemotherapy, each little thing we do to improve our lives adds up. If we make enough little decisions to live better, we’ll eventually find success.

 

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symposium

Degreed was thrilled to participate and sponsor Human Capital Media’s 2015 Spring CLO Symposium at Trump National Doral Miami. The three day conference, from April 13th – 15th, brought together over 300 learning executives.

Degreed’s COO, Chris McCarthy, and Hellman Worldwide Logistics’ Chief People Officer, Kenneth Finneran, presented an outstanding workshop on The New Generation of “Bring Your Own Learning”, What Every CLO Needs to Know. During the presentation, they explained what the consumerization of learning means and how executives can create a “learners first” culture in their organization while maintaining security and visibility. The key takeaways from the presentation included:

The learning levy has burst. People are taking learning into their own hands.

Empowering employee learning is the next big movement in education. Those who embrace it will thrive.

Accountability equals love. Empower while enforcing learning outcomes.

The workshop also included a breakout session where the 60 attendees were asked ‘What can we do as learning leaders to support and empower our learners?’ and discussed solutions in creating a learning culture in their organization.

It was an honor to have Degreed be considered as one of the elite thought leaders and solution providers in the learning and development community. The quality of sessions, speakers, organizations and networking opportunities were outstanding

Read more on the CLO symposium presentations and learning cultures with this Miami Herald Article ‘On-demand courses help employees learn on their own schedules’

Check out the Bring Your Own Learning presentation here:

 

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