Category Archives for Gratitude

Designing your life and work for the year ahead

Kids arranging arrow symbol

It's an interesting time of year as we collectively reflect on 2021 and start envisioning the lives we want to live in 2022.

With so many things out of our control these days, it's more important than ever to focus and be intentional about the things we CAN change,  and the difference we are here to make.

At this time of year, many experts provide helpful guidance in how to do this:

  • Michael Hyatt's LifeScore Assessment helps you identify the areas of life you want to focus on most.
  • Chris Brogan has a process called "My Three Words" that helps you select the three words you want to focus on this coming year.
  • Ryan Deiss, CEO of Digital Marketer and the Scalable Company, is running a "Top to Bottom Challenge" focused on how to scale your business.

Here in our own community, Puzzle Artist Alli Berman graciously shared her "Color Your Gratitude for the New Year" mandala-making activity at last week's Learn and Get Smarter community meeting.

You can learn more about mandalas and how Alli uses them to create focus and intention that brings all the important aspects of our lives together, from this short video.

You can learn more about Alli and her work on her website.

If you're interested in a "Color Your Gratitude" class for yourself or your organization, email her at alli@puzzlearttherapy.com with "GRATITUDE" in the subject line.


What's the difference you are  here to make in the world?

And.. would you like help doing it?

The fifth cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course wrapped up last week...with amazing results.
 
At our final class meeting, I used the Mentimeter app to focus and capture the group's feedback, and saved it in the flipbook you'll find below.

My students have given me permission to share their feedback about what they can now do and how they now feel about creating online courses for their own businesses, as a direct result of participating in the Master Course.

Check out what they have to say in the flipbook below.
(On a computer or tablet, click on the white square in the lower right corner of the blue rectangle, just below the logo, to expand the flipbook to full screen for easier reading. On a phone, use landscape orientation and drag across the book with your fingers to make the pages bigger).

I am so thankful for and proud of my amazing Master Course students, for all their hard work and accomplishments over the past six months.

 I'd love for everyone in this community who feels ready to do so, to experience it for themselves!

The Course Design Formula® Master Course starts 

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

4 PM Pacific/ 7 PM Eastern

January cohort screenshot

Would you like to be part of it?


If you'd like to join the course,

click here 

to schedule an enrollment meeting

and/or write to

Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

to set up a private admissions interview.

You might also enjoy watching my on-demand webinar

which teaches three secrets of online course design

 (secrets we go into in much more depth, in the Master Course).

Screenshot of webinar registration page

Sign up to the Webinar

Secure your place in our free webinar on course design and learn to make your course stand out from the crowd!

 I'm here to support you in your online teaching journey. 

How do YOU want to change the world in 2022 and beyond?


Come to the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting... Saturdays at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern on Zoom

We're focusing on how to  use our online teaching practices and online businesses to help ourselves and others survive and thrive during these challenging times. 

Click here to register for the meeting

(We meet on December 18th, 2021 and then again on January 8th, 2022).

No meetings on Christmas Day and New Years Day... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

many people online in a conference call

The Role of Trauma in Teaching and Learning

globe-like sphere breaking apart

Here in the US, we are getting ready for Thanksgiving, and for many families this may be their first time gathering together indoors in as long as two years.

It feels joyful to anticipate such an event (and also stressful, and also potentially sad).

Some people don’t have families to go to. Some are too far from home to travel. Some are not on good terms with family members, or need to keep playing it safe and stay away from people.

And then there are all those empty places at far too many tables, where those lost to the pandemic should have been.

The planet has been through a collective trauma and is still going through it.

Community, connection, thankfulness are among our most important tools in dealing with trauma, but how does that work when EVERYONE has been traumatized, to some degree, and when the systems that support our lives are continuing to experience severe and prolonged stress?

How does trauma relate to teaching and learning?

Trauma is caused by extreme situations that affect us deeply and for which we are not able to adequately prepare.

A car crash or house fire that are traumatic to the driver or residents, are just part a normal days’ work to the police or fire crews that respond to the scene.

One of the many differences in how the driver or homeowner experiences such an event, as compared to professionals who handle these types of situations every day, is that the professionals have extensive training in how to respond.


One way to define learning is to see it as a process of adapting to one’s environment in ways that promote survival. 

Because traumas threaten our survival, they are powerful teachers, for both good and ill.

Trauma teaches at a biochemical level that can leave an imprint on the body that lasts for multiple generations.

That makes sense.

A biochemical marker passed down to future generations could provide crucial seconds of advanced alarm and alert, 

allowing time to escape from a harmful situation or predator. 

What does all this mean for us

 as online teachers and online learners

  • As we start to emerge from this collective trauma, it’s important that we be patient and understanding.
  •  Be extra nice to yourself, your clients and students, and everyone around you.
  • Everyone is under a tremendous amount of stress right now.
  • We’ve all been under pressure to adapt to extreme, unpredictable, and constantly changing conditions, for a long period of time.


We need to recognize that

we really HAVE been exposed to

 an ongoing global trauma.

When in the midst of dealing with extreme situations, an adaptive response is to simply push on through and deal with it.

We go into coping mode. Noticing how we feel is a luxury we can’t afford. 

When things calm down enough for us to begin to come out of this coping mode and return to what feel like more normal activities (such as, say, a family holiday gathering), we may not realize that the world we think we are returning to is not the same world we left behind.

Planet earth with a large crack.

We may try to do the same things we’ve always done, and notice that it doesn’t work anymore. 

We’ve forgotten the intricate steps that keep the dance of interaction with other human beings in a shared physical space, moving smoothly.

 Little things may take on  significance beyond their literal meaning. 

Snapping that family photo, raising one’s glass to make a toast, who gets to say the blessing, who sits next to whom… these may assume a weight and meaning greater than they had before... so that if one accidentally gets left out of the photo, or misses the toast, or is seated at the far end of the table, it becomes a big deal, or even leads to a fight.

 (Don’t ask me how I know these things, lol).

scream emoji
scream emoji
scream emoji
scream emoji

Those of us in the online course creation space are among the luckiest people on the planet, in these challenging times, I feel.

 The pandemic has pushed business towards us, rather than taken it away.

If people were not convinced of the importance of online learning before the pandemic, they certainly are now.

We have important and meaningful work to do, and we have the ability and tools to make a significant positive difference in the world.

Working online keeps us safe and out of harm’s way.

Afro-caribbean woman working from home during the Covid lockdown

And yet, as we return to the beginnings of what hopefully will someday be a much more normal way of life, 

we too are subject to the impact of collective trauma,

and precisely BECAUSE we’ve been so lucky and protected by the nature of our work, we may not realize that.

It’s only when starting to return to a more normal way of life, that the pain of all that’s been lost, changed,

or missed over the past 2 years,

 begins to sink in.

My message in this blog post is to be prepared for that.

I wasn’t. I went to a family gathering that we hadn’t been able to have for two years, and little tiny things (Was the salad ready? Who got included in the toast? Who got to snap a picture with whom, first?) took on a huge significance.

If you don’t realize this can happen, you and your loved ones may mistakenly think you are having a fight with each other, about what’s happening now. You’re not. 

You are having a fight with the pandemic, and with the two years of family gatherings you lost, and with being overwhelmed by the enormity of everyday things:

  • The power of connection.
  • The ability to sit with your own relatives and friends.
  • The ability to trust the continuity and safety of the world beyond your screen.

It’s not yet clear, and won’t be for some time, exactly what lessons the pandemic has taught us. 

What is clear is that trauma produces an extreme kind of learning which is often not applicable to non-traumatic situations (PTSD is an example of that).

Like soldiers returning from war, or prisoners getting out of jail, we have to relearn how to function in less traumatic conditions.

Hispanic couple having barbeque battle

My message for all of us is simply: be kind.

Be extra patient with yourself and your loved ones.

Be prepared for little things to take on much more meaning than you thought they would.

Don’t get into a fight with your family because the salad wasn’t ready, or someone sat next to someone else instead of you.

 Or if you do get into a fight about such things (because sometimes we do), look beyond the surface to understand why none of us is acting quite normal these days.

It’s not you. It’s not them. It’s the pandemic.

As we climb out of the (metaphorical) bunkers we’ve been living in, the (metaphorical) light may hurt our eyes at first. We have to learn how to adapt and re-acclimatize to a new reality... and we don’t even know what that new reality is going to be yet.

walk way and hand holder beside forward to the light exit or light of hope.

The good thing is, we are all in this together. 

And as online teachers it is our job to lead the way in helping our students, clients, and communities adjust to whatever is coming next.

red wound heart with bandage on white background

Trauma can’t always be avoided. Pandemics seem to be a natural part of life for biological beings like us.

 Forest fires happen.

 Lightning sometimes does strike twice.

But if we can learn to recognize when we and others around us HAVE been traumatized, we can adopt some first aid measures to take care of ourselves. 

Kindness and understanding are the most important tools to have in our emotional first aid tool kits.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for you... for this wonderful community of mission-driven, service-oriented experts who have worked so hard to create ways to help the people you serve learn and get smarter.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for being you. Thank you for all you do.

Thank You Word Cloud On Wall

Gratitude, Fulfillment, and Ease

Thank You written in different languages on speech bubbles.

As you reflect on the past year, with its unprecedented challenges, and think ahead to 2021, it can be helpful to adopt a practice created many years ago by Chris Brogan, which he calls "#My3Words".

I adopted this practice last year for the first time, and it worked! My three words for 2020 were:

  • Prosperity
  • Service
  • Joy

Despite the surrounding conditions that 2020 presented to us all, these three words helped keep my focus on an even keel... allowing me to serve clients, students, and customers in ways that brought joy and allowed me to make a sustainable living in challenging times. I am profoundly thankful.

#My3Words for 2021 are:

  • Gratitude
  • Fulfillment
  • Ease

I wish for these not only for myself but also for all my readers, clients, customers, students, family, friends and members of the Learn and Get Smarter community...and for everyone in the world.


To start the new year off on a note of gratitude:

screenshot of the art materials for Alli Berman's Color Your Gratitude course

Color Your Gratitude

with artist Alli Berman

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific

on Zoom

Are you ready to uplevel your online teaching practice in the new year?

The time is NOW if you would like to reserve a spot in the January 12th cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

(Write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com if you'd like to talk about it).

To learn more, watch my new, free, Master Class and learn three secrets of online course design.

I hope that 2021 will be a gracious year for you, filled with gratitude, fulfillment, and ease in all areas of your work and life. 

Screenshot of webinar registration page

Sign up to the Webinar

Secure your place in our free webinar on course design and learn to make your course stand out from the crowd!

Color Your Gratitude for the New Year

screenshot of the art materials for Alli Berman's Color Your Gratitude course

Looking back at the past year with its world-changing events, what stands out the most is the power of community.

Having the opportunity to get to know the amazing members of the Learn and Get Smarter community has been a great source of comfort and joy for me, and I hope it has been for you as well.

Seeing community members get to know, interact with, and support each other in ways that create powerful synergy, has been truly inspiring.

spotlights shining on a stage


As the year comes to a close, I’d like to start a new occasional feature in this blog, “Community Spotlight”

This is a way to share and honor the work that the mission-driven, service-oriented course creators who make up the Learn and Get Smarter community, are doing.

 I hope that you will enjoy and be inspired by each other’s courses and create an even stronger and more resilient networked ecosystem of experts and entrepreneurs, as a result.

Today, I’m honored to shine the community spotlight on Alli Berman, interactive artist and founder of the PuzzleArt™ Therapy system.

Alli has generously offered to provide us with

 a free, fun, group end of the year holiday experience she calls

 Color Your Gratitude 

screenshot of the art materials for Alli Berman's Color Your Gratitude course

Alli created a course specifically for this activity, which you are invited to enroll in here

(it’s free, you just need to create an account login on Alli's Thinkific school in order to enroll).  

 You are welcome to invite any friends and family members that would enjoy participating, to enroll as well.  

We will meet live on Zoom 

on Wednesday, December 30th, at 5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific

for a guided coloring activity focused on gratitude.

Alli will teach us techniques to have fun together in the moment doing a creative activity with strong visual and tactile components, as we  envision the positive factors we want to put into play for the new year.

Here is the link to

register for the Zoom call

Alli is sharing this introduction to the December 30th program she'll lead us through: 

“Go with your flow – these words have resonated with me for my entire life. When I suffered a stroke at 35 years old, I promised myself that the rest of my life would be filled with gratitude – and so it has been!

Gratitude is…great attitude! Join me on a Zoom experience to Color Your Gratitude and learn my 3 secrets for keeping this important aspect of your life in focus.

Alli’s unique PuzzleArt™ Therapy system teaches occupational therapists, parents, teachers and others how to help children and adults improve their visual and perceptual functioning using her beautiful art as a therapeutic tool.

See Alli's therapeutic art here:

https://puzzlearttherapy.com/


She is also a fine artist whose work has been featured in exhibits all over the world. 

Check out her recent exhibit here:

https://nyartistscircle.com/artists/alli-berman/album/515

NY artists circle screenshot of Alli Berman's exhibit

If you’d like to see a use of flipbooks as a way to deliver an art experience online

 check out Alli’s breathtaking fine art pieces

 that she shares using 3x3” and 4x4” flipbooks here:

(click on the picture of the flipbook to see the whole book)

Detritus series flipbooks


 I could look at these all day. Aren’t they just stunning?


digital flipbook course screenshot


Many of us have been using flipbooks in our online courses.

 I’ve got a fun, free course on how to create a digital flipbook, and I have insider information about an upcoming program that will focus on the value of flipbooks in many different situations.

So stay tuned to look for more information on that program (perhaps in another community spotlight!) in a blog post in January.)



What makes this community special is the power of the mission, vision, creativity, and service that each of you bring to your work in online course design and development.

MY mission is to help you achieve YOUR mission.

I’ve created a Master Class webinar that explains how I do that, and I’d love for you to watch (it’s under an hour long, and you can watch at any time that works for you).

If you do get a chance to catch the webinar, I'd love to hear your feedback on it... please send that to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

Screenshot of webinar registration page

Sign up to the Webinar

Secure your place in our free webinar on course design and learn to make your course stand out from the crowd!

There will be no Learn and Get Smarter Community meeting on Saturday, December 26th. 

Instead, I hope to see you at Alli's Color Your Gratitude experience on Wednesday, December 30th, on Zoom

screenshot of the art materials for Alli Berman's Color Your Gratitude course

Color Your Gratitude

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 

5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific

on Zoom

Your own “Year in Pictures”

Crystal photography ball showing the seascape at St Bees, Whitehaven, Cumbria - British seaside

Many publications are coming out with their “Year in Pictures” for 2020.

As I scrolled through the New York Times’ version, I was overwhelmed by the enormity, the intensity, the global impact that this past year has had on everyone around the globe. 

And no sooner had I gotten done with this heart wrenching visual odyssey than the next headline assaulted me: the earth is about to be impacted by major storms on the Sun, whose effect on our atmosphere and telecommunications may be significant.

Alright, then!

Lighthouse beacon shining over stormy seas

Sometimes, you’re gently sailing your (metaphorical) ship on a calm sea with the wind to your back.

And sometimes, it takes everything you’ve got to keep your ship upright in a life-or-death storm.

2020 has been a nonstop series of life or death storms for our little planet.

It’s forced us to batten down the hatches and tighten up our act.

We’ve had to become more self-reliant, uplevel our technology skills, and develop entirely new social structures and ways of running our work and family systems.


As the year comes to a close, it’s time to turn inward (if it’s possible to turn any MORE inward than many of us already have) and reflect.

  •    What went well for you this past  year, in spite of everything?
  •    What did you have to let go of?
  •    What did you learn? 


As you scroll through the mental images stored in your memory (the memory in your head, not the one on your phone), what pictures stand out for you?


If you were creating a virtual photo album of this mind-boggling year, what would it show?




young woman using laptop PC and various pictures. internet streaming service concept.

Here's mine:

When the pandemic started, I tried to figure out how to stock up on groceries that would be both sustaining,tasty, and workable for the new weight loss program I had just started… Weight Watchers online.

 I wasn’t sure what would work so I tried to guess. It turned out I did pretty well.

After a last trip to Trader Joes, I started relying on Instacart. Turns out I LIKE having expert grocery shoppers comb the aisles for me, and I like not having to carry heavy bags of groceries up multiple flights of stairs.

Instacart’s algorithm has learned my weekly shopping list, and only shows me pictures of the things I need to buy.

So my first set of pictures will be my standard grocery items, lined up every week on the screen.

These are pictures of the life giving foods that keep me alive and healthy, have been an important source of enjoyment during a year filled with restrictions, and have helped me lose almost 30 lbs.

Food backgrounds: table filled with large variety of food

What has worked, or not worked, for you on the level of sheer physical survival, this year?

What pictures stand out in your mind?

Some people have had a lot of chances to be outside in nature this year, and others have had almost none.

I was in the latter category, and one thing I’ve learned this year is how important being outside in nature is to our physical and emotional health.

The feeling of moving our feet on uneven natural surfaces, the sensory crunch of our footsteps falling on leaves, the surprise of discovering different types of animals and plants and weather and clouds… this type of sensorimotor learning is fundamental to how our bodies and brains are wired.

We were meant to learn through and from interactions with the natural world around us, while moving and touching and feeling and seeing and hearing.

The need to sit at a screen for (often) 14 hours a day, has made it harder than usual for many of us to experience this type of natural interaction.

After a while it starts to wear on you.

 Once I realized that, I made a point of getting out to a park and walking around, even if only once a week or so.

The vistas that I saw there and the way their natural beauty fed my soul, is the 2nd set of pictures I would share.

palm trees against a cloudy sky

What has worked for you to stay connected with nature, to feed your senses, and to get out and move? 

How have you experienced the world beyond the edges of the screen?

The social world this year has both shrunken to a single point (with each of us alone in our own spaces for months on end) and expanded to cover the whole world (with new connections forged via not only endless  Zoom meetings, but an increased appreciation for online learning, virtual conferences, and creative forms of physically distanced/socially connected interaction.)

The online learning space has been through a forced evolution that propelled our collective understanding of how to interact online, ahead by quantum leaps from where it would have been.

 We may be sick of Zoom calls but we’ve also gotten good at them.

 From trying to figure out how to unmute ourselves, we’ve graduated to playing online scavenger hunts, inviting goats to attend our meetings, and giving collective virtual hugs.

My third picture would be of the many online conferences I’ve attended this year where I’ve met amazing experts and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Laptop screen webcam view diverse people engaged in group videocall

Who have you met this year through online conferences and meetings?

How have you expanded your connections while remaining physically apart?

My most important pictures from 2020 are pictures of YOU: the mission-driven, service-oriented, incredibly creative clients, students, community members, colleagues, mentors, coaches and friends who have sat across the screen from me and shared what was on their minds. 

Whether in private coaching calls, the Course Design Formula® Master Course, Course Crafters Camp™, our Saturday morning community meetings, or informal chats with colleagues and friends, it is YOUR faces I see when I think about this year. 

Thank you for being present with me and working so hard, amidst all the chaos and upheaval surrounding us all, to make the world a better place for those you are here to serve.

Hand of touching network connecting the human dots icon in business project management. Teamwork organization and brainstorm concept

You are radiant, you are beautiful, you are remarkable.

 You make the world a better place by being here. Keep being you, keeping doing what you do.


Let’s all picture a better world in 2021… what would YOU like to see, experience, and do?

Dreaming Intellect series. Visually pleasing composition of human face and technological elements to serve as  background in works on mind, reason, intelligence and imagination

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

I’d love to see some “pictures” from your virtual photo album. If you’ve taken my digital flip book course and would like to create a flipbook of your own, come share a link to in the Facebook group

Or just describe your “pictures” verbally… on Facebook or via email privately to me (Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com), or in a blog post of your own to your own community, if you prefer.

We won’t be meeting on Saturdays for the next two weeks… there will be no community meeting on Saturday, December 19th or Saturday, December 26th.

Let’s all take this time to rest, reflect, and prepare for the new  year.

I’ll keep writing this blog and I’ll look forward to hearing from you anytime via Facebook or email.

The community meeting will return on Saturday, January 2nd 2021 (you can register for it here, and put it on your calendar).

Meanwhile, if you’d like to make creating an online course that really teaches at a deep level, a priority in the new year, schedule a time NOW to talk with me about whether the Course Design Formula® master course (starting January 12th, 2021) is right for you.

 I’d love to talk with you about it! Spaces are limited so book your call now.

Course Design Formula Master CourseJanuary 2021 screenshot


May the days ahead be filled with blessings, insight and inspiration for you and yours.

 I look forward to seeing you next year on Saturdays for the community meeting, and hopefully in class.

Stay fabulous, and thank you for being such an important part of the picture.

You made this past year very special, despite the challenges we all faced.


 Save your spot 

in the January cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Take the stress and overwhelm out of setting up YOUR online course

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Thankfulness through the lens of learning

Thank You note text on a sticky note placed on a keyboard.

Learning means adapting our behavior in ways that promote survival.

This past year has been a massive, forced, global learning experience of the most profound, and often heart-wrenching kind.

Our literal survival on a personal and societal level has been and continues to be at stake.

It’s amazing that in the swirling maelstrom of chaos we’ve all been exposed to, teaching online has emerged as one of the most positive and helpful things we can do.

Giving thanks with pumpkin assortment still life and thankful message


Being able to help the people we care about and are here to serve, learn and get smarter in ways that make life better for them, is a tremendous blessing. Being able to do meaningful work in ways that don’t endanger our own health or that of our learners, is wonderful.

The pandemic has pushed online learning as a global communal experience, forward exponentially.

People are exploring new and creative ways to connect, learn, create and grow using online platforms and media.

 It’s also exposed challenges, weaknesses and drawbacks of those systems…from physical problems caused by too much sitting, to the social and emotional ravages of isolation and loneliness.

What is your role in all of this? What do you personally and specifically want to teach online, and how will that make the world a better place?

As you start thinking ahead to 2021 (YES!), what are your goals to uplevel your online teaching practice?

If you want to be a transformational global educator who truly makes a difference in peoples’ lives, I invite you to consider joining the January 2021 cohort of the Course Design Formula® Master Course.

Admission is by private interview -- so if you’re interested, connect with me now to schedule a time to talk.

Join the January 2021 cohort

of the Course Design Formula® Master Course

Space is limited.

Enrollment is via private interview only.

My mission is to support you in YOUR mission of helping people survive and thrive by teaching online. My goal is to make online learning the most dynamic, engaging, interactive experience it can be… taking the whole person on the other side of the computer or phone screen, into account. My goal is to help you get your expertise out of your head and into the world where it can help people improve their lives and also help you improve yours through safe, meaningful, and rewarding work.

Photo of two generations males drinking coffee near fire in nature


We’re all in this together, learning and growing as a global community. 

Not everything we try works out. Sometimes we run into walls, come to a dead end, have to pivot.

 It hurts and it’s hard. This past week I’ve spoken with several entrepreneurs who are succeeding brilliantly at teaching online…they have eager students and are earning good money.

 But this comes at the price of working 14 hour days seven days a week, which is neither balanced nor sustainable.

 I haven’t solved this problem, I have it too. I’ve been working 18 hour days without a break for the past 12 years, and it’s an honor and a privilege to do it… but we all need rest and balance in our lives if we are going to make online teaching work effectively in the long run.

So the first thing I will ask you is: what are you planning and building into your life, to get some rest and some time away from the screen, over the holidays? 

I know that’s easier said than done when our main way of connecting with loved ones involves MORE online meetings.

And those are important.

But take some time this week to connect with nature, and your own inner self, as well.  

Take some time to reflect on this mind-boggling year in the history of the world, and what it has meant for you.

Falling Autumn leaves before sunset


What have you learned this year that has helped you survive and thrive? 

The most important thing I’ve learned is the power of connection, the power of community.

The most amazing process I’ve observed, through the Learn and Get Smarter community meetings, in the  Course Design Formula® Master Course, and elsewhere, is the synergy that happens when mission-driven, service oriented experts who have spent their whole lives developing their unique expertise, come together in the service of a common cause.

Shift Key

My job is to be the stone in the Stone Soup.. the catalyst that inspires and encourages everyone to contribute what they can to a group endeavor that becomes much more than the sum of its parts.

In the community meeting over the past six months, we have learned about:

  • systems thinking
  • how to deal with chaos and complexity
  • human motivation and behavior
  •  how to improve memory and concentration
  • how to uplevel our online presence
  • and of course, how to teach anything to anyone online.

We learned that gratitude is the most important driver of success in powering our online learning programs.

Through it all, the thing that has been most sustaining is knowing that there is a group of people who truly care about each other, who provide each other with wise guidance under difficult conditions, and who have each other’s back.

I want to take this moment to express my profound thanks to my students, mentors, colleagues, and peers, and to everyone who has attended the Master Course and  the Learn and Get Smarter community meetings, and to invite you to join us if you haven’t already.



Come to the community meeting

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Discovering the engine of success

colorful paintsplash background with the words

Whether or not you are able to attend the weekly Learn and Get Smarter community meetings in person, I invite you to follow along with our ongoing group process of collaborative discovery as we explore ways to survive and thrive during these challenging times.

As a community focused on creating effective and engaging online courses, we are well-positioned to cope with conditions that allow social connectedness online while maintaining physical distancing in the physical world.

Nowhere is this issue more critical than in the education sector. Like many of you, I watch with concern as parents, teachers, and employers struggle to resolve complex issues balancing physical health and safety, the need to earn a living, and the educational needs of students. 

The challenges, decisions, and dilemmas facing both parents and teachers with respect to in-person learning, are gut-wrenching.

As online educators, we are fortunate that all three of these needs can be met through our chosen work medium. Through teaching online we can protect our own and others' physical health while earning a living and meeting the educational needs of our students.

At the community meeting on Saturday, July 18th, 2020 we started to apply the systems thinking we've been learning about, to our own lives. We started to explore systems we have in place that are working well for us on all levels -- from the physical to the emotional to the intellectual to the spiritual (roughly following along the lines of Maslow's Hierarchy).

Maslow's pyramid of needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom.

It quickly became apparent that the SYSTEMS in our lives do not operate independently of each other.

 Rather, systems that we have in place to promote physical health also impact our emotional well-being. Systems that help us learn and grow also contribute to our feelings of self-actualization. And so on.  

In sharing what's working well right now during the pandemic, the  systems that ticked boxes on multiple levels were the ones that were most effective.  

But one thing stood out above everything else, and this was a truly powerful discovery that we made as a group during the meeting. 


The one thing that worked better than anything else

 to help us survive and thrive, 

was

 FEELING GRATITUDE.

We tried an experiment during the meeting, which was to go through the "Rampage of Appreciation" exercise developed by Esther and Jerry Hicks.  The way we did this was to simply look around and find five things  to appreciate in our immediate environment. (You can choose any number, choosing five was arbitrary.) We each shared what our five things were and why we appreciated them.

This was a powerful exercise with meaningful results. We learned that what we appreciate depends on our individual perceptual lens. We learned that what we focus on determines what we see. We learned that one person's sharing of what they appreciate leads to benefits for others as well. 

We decided that during the week ahead we will continue to look for things to appreciate in our immediate environments, and focus on feeling gratitude for what's working well.

That doesn't mean we don't see or acknowledge the many challenging and painful things that many are facing during the pandemic. Those are all too clear and obvious.

What it does mean is that in order to find ways to survive and thrive,  putting our focus on the things that we can be grateful for, is proving EFFECTIVE as the driving engine of the whole "system of systems" that make up our lives.

A highly enlightening book for learning how systems intersect and interact, is Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows. Several of us are reading this book now (or listening on audiobook). I'm finding that this book provides an ongoing stream of enlightening revelations about how things work and connect on multiple levels of life.


An online course is a SYSTEM designed to promote learning. The guiding principle behind instructional design is that the system must be properly constructed in order for learning to result.

The Course Design Formula® is a system for designing online courses, that helps you design yours properly so that learning can FLOW from your mind to your learner's minds, leading to lightbulb moments.

But not all lightbulb moments result from learning that's been intentionally designed. At our community  meetings, we are not designing courses... we are engaging in unguided discovery learning (which is what you do when you are trying to learn about something you are NOT an expert at).

The discovery of the importance of FEELING GRATITUDE as the central engine that drives all other systems in our lives, was a serendipitous and somewhat surprising discovery we made as a group. 

Closeup super excited happy screaming woman with many light idea bulbs above head celebrates success looking up on gray wall background

I invite you to reflect on the systems in your life that are working well for you right now, as well as those that you have the opportunity to improve. You are welcome to download this worksheet to use as a guide (it's a Word document, so save it to your own computer and fill it in in any way you find helpful).

You are welcome to share any insights, reflections, or discoveries you arrive at, in the Course Design Formula® Community Facebook group, and/or by sending me an email at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com. And of course, I hope you'll join us on Saturday, July 25th for the next community meeting, as we continue to explore ways to survive and thrive during these challenging times.

Come to the community meeting

Saturday, July 25th, 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.