Category Archives for Disruption

Dealing with resistance

large yellow arrow facing right, opposed by many smaller white arrows facing left

In last week's blog post, I wrote about the point that occurs about module 3 and 4 of many online courses, where the learner needs to start to actually apply the new material being taught.

At that point in the course, far too often, learners find actually applying the teaching too difficult, and just drop off.

They stop paying attention, stop doing the work, and vanish into cyberspace. 

How can you keep that from happening in YOUR online course?

You can't, totally, prevent that, because adult learners who are not facing requirements set by a job or academic program are free to do as they want.

But you can expect, and prepare for, learner resistance to  moving forward into the deeper layers of your course, and build as many touch points as possible into the course design itself, to counteract that resistance.

illustration showing a pencil with a fist growing out of the top of it, and lightning flashes coming out of the sides. The words "Strong Design" appear under the pencil/fist."

The most important thing to consider in supporting your course participants to power through the natural resistance we all feel to really learning anything new, is to 

build GUIDED PRACTICE into the design of every lesson.

It's far too easy to inadvertently skip this step... to go right from presenting the information you're teaching, to expecting learners to be able to do it for themselves. 

But before they can do it for themselves, they need you to not only TELL them what to do, 

but also


People untangling a ball of yarn together

How do you build guided practice into an online lesson? This is such a complex and important topic that I'll devote a whole blog post to it at a later time. Meanwhile, you can read about how to provide guided practice in my book (it's on pages 189-192).

The point I want to focus on now is that providing guided practice every step of the way helps overcome the resistance to moving forward into the deeper layers of learning, that is a natural part of learning anything new.

 It's harder to provide guided practice online than in person, but it's not impossible. The important thing is to remember to do it, every step of the way.

How else can you help your course participants power on past the "dip" that occurs around module 3 or 4 of an online course?

  • Increase social presence

  • increase engagement

  • increase motivation

Increase social presence

The more your learners can feel that you are THERE WITH THEM, helping them overcome learning challenges, the more supported they will feel in sticking it out through the hard parts.

Whether this means including live coaching, responding to learner emails, or building "evergreen" factors into the course that make learners feel you are there with them, it's important to think about how you will accomplish this.

Young man teaching eldery man of usage of computer. Intergeneration

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on August 22nd, 2020, we talked about another type of resistance some of us have encountered as well: resistance to innovative ideas that we may want to share with colleagues and peers.

While there is plenty of lip service being paid about how innovation and disruption are good things, in actual practice, people don't always appreciate innovations that disrupt their lives.  

If you, like many in the Learn and Get Smarter community, are a highly creative thought leader and change agent, how do you deal with resistance as you bring new ideas, new products, and new services into the world?

Part of the work of being a change agent, is being aware of and accounting for the resistance to change. It would be wonderful if everyone appreciated the changes we are working so hard to bring into the world, rushed to buy our products and services, and supported what we are doing in every way.

But the nature of change is that it is hard, and is often not welcomed or appreciated at first. And if we are the ones bringing the change, some of that resistance is going to be directed at us.

All truth passes through three stages. 

First, it is ridiculed.

Second, it is violently opposed.

Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

--Arthur Schopenhauer

If this resonates with you, remember to believe in yourself and what you are here to do. Your mission, vision, and service are important. You have something to offer that will help people grow and will make the world a better place.

 Growth and change are hard, and we all tend to resist them, even when we WANT to grow and change.

 I've written a  blog post about the role of resistance in the implementation of effective change, on my "Ask Mother Rebecca" blog. If you'd like to delve deeper into the role of resistance in growth and change, you may find this interesting. 


I was lucky enough to learn a fascinating principle from Dave Lakhaniat a business mastermind I attended recently.

He said that in order for your ideas to have the impact necessary for your  business to be effective, you must be POLARIZING. 

Meaning that while some people are  going to love and appreciate what you are offering, others will not.

You can't please everyone, and must specifically attract those you are meant to serve while causing those who are not a fit for your message, to be pushed away.

If, like me, you  want to be able to serve everyone and be all things to all people, this message can be hard to hear.

But it's important to pay attention to it.

It fits with the business guidance we receive to remember to "niche down"... get focused and specific on the EXACT target audience you want to attract, and focus on meeting their needs with your products and services.

Bringing the focus back to designing our online courses in ways that help learners overcome the challenges and obstacles that arise whenever one sets out to learn anything new, we can be reminded that while not everyone is going to choose to persist past those obstacles, some will.

We need to be here and show up for those of our course participants, clients, and customers who ARE willing to do the hard work of overcoming resistance so they can learn and grow. Those are the people we are here to serve, and it's an honor and a pleasure to do so.

How are YOU overcoming resistance to change in yourself and others, as you set up your business and create your course(s)? 

Come talk about it at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, August 29th, or  in the Facebook group!

Come to the community meeting


9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Systems to help you thrive

The Kuang Si Falls, sometimes spelled Kuang Xi or known as Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls, is a three levelled waterfall about 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. Breathtaking cascades of water make the Kuang Si one of Luang Prabang

In response to the pandemic, we started having weekly meetings for the Learn and Get Smarter community, to brainstorm and support each other in helping our businesses -- and especially our online courses -- survive and thrive during these challenging times.

Over the past several months during these weekly meetings, we've been using the structure of a cognitive strategies course (learning how to learn), as a container to help us organize our collective thoughts. 

Trello board showing brainstorming ideas for our cognitive strategies course

The question we've been focusing on is:

How can we best learn how to survive and thrive, on all levels,

during these challenging times?

What's emerged over time from our group discussions, is that SYSTEMS THINKING is a very helpful cognitive strategy that we can apply to our lives on all levels during these times of chaos, complexity, and disruption.

At the community meeting on July 11th, 2020 we experienced powerful synergy as we shared what's been working well for us during these unprecedented times.

With so much bad news out there these days, it was uplifting and inspiring to hear what's been working WELL for community members during the pandemic.

Looking at our lives from a wholistic perspective, on all levels from the physical to the social/emotional to the financial to the spiritual, some of the positive developments that community members shared include:

  • Developing improved systems for basic physical survival functions like getting groceries through Instacart
  • Having more time for projects such as reading, cleaning, and personal development
  • Seeing family more often than before via regular online meetings
  • Younger family members teaching older ones by sharing digital products through screen sharing
  • Exploring creative ways to interact socially, such as through Air B n B's online experiences
  • Having more efficient business meetings
  • Being able to accomplish more in our businesses, virtually than is possible in person
  • Not polluting the planet through unnecessary car and plane travel

Community member Rob Ruder has taught us about how systems work, and explained different types of feedback loops (balancing loops vs. reinforcing loops) that operate in systems.

Balancing systems establish a fixed amount of capacity that throttles new inflows coming in to the system. A coaching program (which can only allow as many clients as the coach has hours available) is an example of a balancing system. Rob explains that balancing feedback is GOAL oriented. The prime example is the thermostat in a house. You set the thermostat where you want it to be and it controls whether additional heat is added to the house or not in order to maintain the target temperature. Your GOAL is to maintain a specific temperature, and the thermostat's balancing system is designed to do that.

Reinforcing systems allow continual increase  in the amount of new flows coming in to the system. An online course (which can have an unlimited number of students enrolled) is an example of a reinforcing system. Rob points out that reinforcing feedback is GROWTH oriented. Inflows into the system create more in a continually reinforcing feedback loop, which continues until the system runs into a balancing feedback system.

Globally, in terms of increasing production and pollution and so forth, we've had a continually growth-oriented reinforcing system since the end of World War Two, but now have hit  limits of the planetary stock of oxygen vs. CO2 and so on...which triggered a balancing feedback loop in the form of the pandemic.The planet was getting out of balance.... so eventually, a balancing feedback loop imposed itself on the global ecosystem, enforcing behaviors (such as drastic reductions in travel and production) that allow for better maintenance of critical planetary systems such as temperature control.  The pandemic has produced tremendous disruption for individuals and businesses and communities, but may work well for the planet as a whole.

In our own lives, we also see interactions between balancing and reinforcing systems. We like and need the stability that balancing systems help us maintain. But too much stability can lead to stagnation, burnout, and boredom, which impell us toward a desire for disruption and growth.

While it can be painful to have our routines and lives disrupted, there can also be benefits.

We learned the term "purposeful chaos", where disruption serves as a catalyst for growth, helping us challenge ourselves as we find new ways to adapt to the conditions around us.

We decided that next week, we will start to build a community document or template for sharing ideas, methods, systems, tips and tricks that we have each discovered, that help us survive and thrive in these challenging times.

This is an ongoing collaborative  process… come and be part of it!

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Click on the green button to register for the meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.