Tag Archives for " Mindset "

Groundhog Day, Mindset Change, and the Value of Constraints

groundhog standing up in a field

The 1993 movie Groundhog Day provides an insightful example of the value of constraints in producing positive mindset change.

Trapped by his fixed mindset in the hell-scape of having to live the same (boring) day over and over again, main character Phil Connors eventually finds ways to use the narrow constraints of his strange new world to incrementally change his mindset. 

What he did in that movie was learn how to make the most of the present moment…to be here now, to optimize his interactions with people, place, and time.

He did this by switching from focusing on what he could get for himself (which had never made him happy) to focusing on how he could be of service others (which ended up bringing joy to everyone, including himself).

His new mindset broke him out of the fixed mindset of living the same day over and over in an ego-focused echo chamber, as his life expanded outwards through meaningful connection with others.

Circle of People Pulling on Connected Ropes


Groundhog Day is a classic that is both fun and rewarding to watch again and again and again (do we see an ironic theme here? 😉) ... because new insights emerge every time you see it.

What makes Groundhog Day such a great teaching story

 is that it demonstrates the power of CONSTRAINTS

 to produce meaningful mindset change.

Educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné taught that the first step in achieving effective mindset change (as opposed to just paying lip service to what people want us to say), is to get deeply in touch with WHAT’S NOT WORKING FOR US. 

At the beginning of the movie, Phil is not aware that his selfish, egocentric mindset isn’t working for him. He doesn’t even realize he’s unhappy (he just makes everyone around him unhappy, instead). He’s fooled by the outer accoutrements of his prestigious job and fast- paced lifestyle, into thinking that he has it all. 

It’s only when he’s prevented (by mystical quirks of quantum physics and brilliant screenwriting) from dashing mindlessly onward in the way he’s used to doing, that he has to stop and notice other people and their needs.

And from there, through trial and error, he slowly discovers ways of being, doing, and relating that will work better for him.

Discovering what will work better for us is the second step in achieving effective mindset change. 

Being restricted to slowing down and living the same day over and over again, is the constraint that both requires and facilitates this positive change for Phil.

What is it about constraints that help us change?


Constraints force us to slow down, look within, and examine our priorities. 

When we run out of choices … whether with respect to health, time, energy, money, relationships, or anything else…

we are forced to prioritize.

If we are limited in our ability to change things in the outer world, 

we are forced to change OURSELVES.

Every medium, system, situation, business, person, society… anything that is, has constraints.

We are all constrained by gravity on the planetary surface… and that helps keep our bones strong.

Living under conditions of zero gravity (without constraint) leads to weakened bones… a situation most of us don’t have to worry about too much, but something that’s interesting to contemplate as a metaphor.

The current global situation is imposing severe and unpredictable constraints on all of us. In addition to whatever individual and personal challenges we face in these unprecedented times, the planet as a whole is facing limitations, shortages, restrictions in a multitude of ways.

And as uncomfortable as it is, that's not necessarily a bad thing. We need limits and restrictions to push against in order to get stronger.

The challenge is balancing those limits against our strength.

If the constraints become too crushing we may lose our ability to adapt and grow. But if there are no constraints, or they are not challenging enough, we can be all over the place with no focus or channeled direction for our energy or growth.

That’s one reason many people choose to take an online course or work with a coach:

 they are seeking

structure and accountability

 that guides and channels their growth in a specific direction.


Let’s look at another, very different, story to understand how constraints impact our mindset under extremely demanding and restrictive conditions.

The TV series “Alone” (season 7 takes place in the Arctic) is currently showing on the History Channel, and I recommend it highly for any and all educators, coaches, and entrepreneurs.

This show is a goldmine of “aha” moments about learning and mindset change…moments that just keep coming, one right after another. 💡💡💡

In season 7, a group of the world’s best survival experts is taken to a remote location in the Arctic and each of them is dropped off entirely alone with only a small list of items they were allowed to pack in advance.

Mindset is a tremendously important part of these survival experts' ability to make it through for the required 100 days alone in the Arctic… building their own shelter, finding ways to stay warm, catching their own food.

Many of the concepts we use as digital entrepreneurs, show up in literal concrete form on this show

  • Passive income = snares that catch rabbits or nets that catch fish while the survival expert is busy doing othe things
  • Runway = the relationship of available energy (in the form of calories of available food) to the required energy expenditure needed to obtain shelter, provide heat, and obtain more food

The show is riveting for its focus not only on mindset but also on other types of learning (cognitive strategies that help the survivalist “learn how to learn” where the best food and shelter are, how to avoid predators, etc.) and “how-to” skills needed to identify what’s safe to eat and understand the habits of the local wildlife.

The survival experts chosen for the show already possessed those how-to skills as essential prior knowledge for making this experience work.

(What happens when one lacks such prior knowledge in a wilderness survival situation can be seen in the equally fascinating and tragically true story, “Into the Wild”.)

Silhouette woman on top of mountain peak. Success and winner concept. Hiking lifestyle


Under severe constraints 

such as those imposed by having to

 survive alone in the Arctic for 100 days,

 the importance of having the right mindset

 becomes crystal clear.

  • One must be aware and vigilant, yet open to exploration and the potential for positive surprise.
  • One may work hard to enjoy the good things of life procured through one’s own hard work,
  • but losing focus while doing so may cost one everything.
A young boy dressed in business suit and tie wears a homemade jetpack and flying goggles raises his arms in the afternoon sun while running to take off into the air on an outcropping above the surf in Montana de Oro State Park, California. This young entrepreneur is ready to take his new business to new heights.


It’s ironic that a show about surviving alone in the Arctic, 

seems to track so closely to the mindset issues we face as digital entrepreneurs!

Why is that, I wonder?


Perhaps the commonality is that each of us, like those survivalists, possess a high level of prior knowledge in our own areas of expertise…and that is what has led us to seek to challenge ourselves by becoming entrepreneurs.

We want to be of service, we want to test our limits, we want to learn and grow. We need to provide sustenance for ourselves and our families, in a landscape that can be hostile and unpredictable as well as fertile and magnificent and filled with grace.

Saithip Waterfall in Phu Soi Dao National Park,

We are each alone in our own wilderness

 and we need to learn how to survive and thrive.

Rear view of a survivalist man with a backpack walking across a meadow with a river in a forest.


How can we best do it?

When constraints come crushing in, as they are doing for so many these days, how can we use those constraints to get stronger rather than give up?

How do we know when a situation has become untenable (as it did for some of the survivalists) to the degree that the better course of wisdom is to call it and give up?

If the situation one is in is not working and is not GOING to work, the optimal mindset to adopt may be one of recognizing and accepting that.

In addition to understanding what’s not working, and discovering what could work better, Gagné’s research tells us that mindset change requires a strong connection with one’s own personal WHY for making the change.


  • What mindset is not working for you right now?
  • What mindset could serve you better?
  • And most importantly, WHY do you want to make a change, and adopt a new attitude towards whatever it is you are doing and working with?

Once we understand the mindset we want to work towards, we need to see inspiring role models who are successfully doing what we want to learn how to do. But groundbreaking entrepreneurs sometimes have no role models available.

If you are doing something no one’s done before, then YOU are the role model… 

not only for those who will later follow you, but for your own self as you forge the path you are on now.

Your own future self needs to be your role model. So throw out a lifeline to your own best, future, version of yourself and create that version as a role model you can grow into.

Sometimes, when alone in the Arctic, there is no other choice. And sometimes, having no other choice is exactly the constraint we need to force us to become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Finally, positive mindset change, as Gagné discovered, requires long term ongoing support. What support systems can you build into your work and life to sustain you as make the desired mindset change?

Reflecting on Groundhog Day, it’s fascinating to realize that the CONSTRAINTS Phil Connors faced --the limitation of having to live the same day over and over and not being able to escape that -- WAS his long term ongoing support.

That severely limiting constraint provided a safe container in which he could achieve positive mindset change.

In the movie he discovered (and the rest of us, who don't live in a screen-written fictional world, should NOT try this at home!) that in his reality, he could never die.

The extreme constraint he faced of knowing that every day no matter what had happened the day before, he’d wake up in his bed and breakfast in a time-warped loop at 6 AM, ironically gave him the freedom  to try many things he would never have otherwise tried.

groundhog standing up in a field

This is what happens in the artificial world of games, where one can “die” many times only to play again, knowing now what one didn’t know before.

In the Arctic, on the other hand, the potential for LITERAL death is very real and not a metaphor. In the Arctic, there are no alarm clocks, no bed and breakfasts, and no predictability of life from day to day.

That LACK of constraints in itself presents a different type of extreme constraint… requiring constant attention to the environment and constant balancing of energy input and output in order to stay in the game.

The wide openness of the Artic requires a mindset of tightly FOCUSED attention.. whereas the tight limits of living the same day over and over in a small community, led to a BROADENING OUT of ideas and possibilities.

Business deadline overtime crunch stress concept. Business person worker or manager employee trying to get job done in due time. Overwork unhealthy frustration. Flat vector character illustration

There are always going to be constraints, in any situation we are in.

Right now, globally, the constraints on all of us are tightening. Perhaps we can learn from both Groundhog Day and Alone…to focus our attention on what’s most critical to our survival and well-being at the moment, while also being open to the types of new ideas and possibilities that the conditions of extreme uncertainty we’re all living in, make possible.

What are some helpful mindsets these compelling stories might encourage us to explore and adapt?

  • Working hard, yet appreciating the need to rest and regroup
  • Doing our best to be of service to others, while also taking care of ourselves
  • Being determined to succeed at what we’re doing, while also recognizing that sometimes success emerges from things that initially don’t work

When we think of mindset change in relation to constraints, 

the possibilities for new discovery are endless.

I invite you to try it.


Whether you like the shows I found inspiring, or prefer to use others as a springboard for your own reflections,

what does meaningful mindset change mean to you?

How do you experience the constraints you're facing in the current situation, whatever they may be, to stimulate positive change?

Let’s talk about it in the comments below... I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Join us on Facebook

 in the

Course Design Formula® Community.

Send me an email

 to

Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

Come to the 

Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays on Zoom.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive

 with online courses and online business

in these challenging times

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Use learning design to structure your whole business…and everything in it

the five possible learning types for your course
  • Verbal Information. 
  • Mindset.
  • Cognitive Strategy.
  • Intellectual skills (How-to).
  •  Motor Skills.

    These are the five “Domains of Learning” discovered by educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné.


Any type of learning you want to create falls into one or more of these categories.

Understanding the 5 domains is a powerful key

you can use to unlock the BEST way to structure your entire online business enterprise...

as well as every course, lesson, and media item within it....

so people can achieve the transformation you’re promising.

The 5 Domains of learning can help you discover:

  • The type of transformation every aspect of your business will deliver
  • The best way to structure every part of your business to optimize learning
  •  What to include in every level of your business and what to leave out

Most courses include elements of more than one learning domain, but there is ONE domain that determines the best way to structure your course as a whole.

The same principle applies to anything you create, from  your whole business enterprise to a single PDF.

 Figuring the over-arching domain  is the key to setting up a business, course, lesson, or media item

 that people will learn from, love, and recommend to their colleagues and friends.

Let's say that  you have a business that includes a book, coaching, and a course.  

Your business will have its own learning domain.. and figuring out what that learning domain  is will guide you in how to structure the business.

For example, a business that's focused on producing mindset change will need to include long-term ongoing support to ensure that the mindset change sticks.

Woman changing smileys on her face


My online learning program, as a whole… my whole online course enterprise.. focuses on MINDSET CHANGE

The goal of my business is to change people’s attitudes  (and resulting behaviors) about online course creation—so that they understand what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t work, and what will work better to create online courses that truly deliver on their promises.

In order to facilitate that type of mindset change, my online course enterprise goes deep into helping you get in touch with your mission and vision for teaching online… your WHY for doing what you do.

 And I provide extensive long term support so you can go the distance to get your course created, get it out there, and continuously up-level your delivery and practice of teaching online… whether you’ve been teaching for 35  years or have never taught before in any context, at all.

As a smaller subset within my online enterprise,  The Course Design Formula® which you can read about in my book, is ahOW-TO(INTELLECTUAL SKILL).

The book presents the big ideas that are critical to know about teaching and learning… both in general, and online.

The book presents tools and resources specifically designed to help you create effective online learning programs, and  steps to follow to get your course online.

And you’ll learn some high-level fine tuning tweaks to ensure your online programs are effective, impactful, engaging and “elegant”.. by which I mean that you skillfully combine different aspects of quality teaching in a smooth and graceful way.

picture of the Course Design  Formula book in paperback
octopus emerging from computer


But let’s face it… it’s one thing to learn what the steps of a skill involve.. and another thing to APPLY those steps to YOUR specific content, which may be very comprehensive, unique, and complex. 

That process can feel  as overwhelming and nebulous as  trying to wrestle an octopus... amiright?

In order to help you apply the steps of the Course Design Formula® to your specific content, 

I’ve set up the Course Design Formula® Master Course as a COGNITIVE STRATEGY course... 

 you learn how to learn how best to apply each step of the formula to your specific content,

in your own unique way, that works best for YOUR target audience and their needs.

The Master Course is a 14 week cohort-based program that I offer twice a year. 

Admission is by private interview only.

If you’re interested in joining the next cohort (starting June 21 2022), 

click here to make an appointment

to meet with me for an enrollment interview.


You can see the domains of learning for the different aspects of my business, here... and how they relate to each other. 

Each business, course, and media item will be unique in this regard. 

That's why developing a deep understanding of the domains of learning is so important,

so you can get clarity on how to structure each aspect of your online teaching enterprise.

learning domains for different aspects of my business


How about you?

 What’s the learning domain for your online academy, program, or course?

Take the free quiz

to find out your program's learning domain. 


How will YOU change the world through teaching online?


And.. what kind of help do you need to make that happen?

Join us on Facebook

 in the

Course Design Formula® Community.

Send me an email

 to

Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com

Come to the 

Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays on Zoom.

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive

 with online courses and online business

in these challenging times

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

Why is transformation so hard?

Transformation of common lascar butterfly ( Pantoporia hordonia ) from caterpillar and chrysalis on twig

We all say we WANT transformation, right?

Online course creators NEED to focus on the transformation they want their course to deliver, if their course is going to actually DO anything and make a difference in the world.


BUT… here’s the dirty little secret of online course design that no one talks about (because it’s so hard and painful for all of us, as humans, to face).

We all WANT transformation. That’s why we sign up for online courses to begin with (and why we create them for our clients and customers).

But in order to ACHIEVE transformation, people have to actually CHANGE.


Frightened Woman

Change is hard, and people resist it. And they should.

And they… wait… WHAT??? They SHOULD?

 I thought we were focused on producing transformation here.

 We are.

 And in order for transformation to be real,

 it has to overcome the learner’s natural and instinctive resistance to change.

 

If there's no resistance, there's no (real) change!


Why do we resist change? Because change is hard, scary, and dangerous.

Many online courses DON’T produce real transformation… because they’re not designed to. 

That can happen because the course creator doesn’t know HOW to design a course to produce transformation. 

Or because no one really wants transformation to happen, to begin with.

Those are two separate use cases, so let’s explore them one at a time.

1) No one really wants transformation to happen, to begin with:

Sometimes, people like the IDEA of transformation, but don’t want to do the hard work needed to really make it happen. We’ve all been there at different times in our lives.
We buy the gym membership, but don’t actually go to the gym. 

We sign up for that class in accounting or yoga but never actually log on.

That’s from the learners’ side.

From the course creators’ side, a course that PROMISES transformation (but doesn’t actually deliver it) is fast and easy to create because it requires no learning design chops.

As long as you know how to ♨️SELL the sizzle♨️, you never need to actually cook the steak.

Plenty of people have gotten rich doing this.

All I have to say about that is… well... you know what they say about karma, so I won’t repeat it here.😱😱😱


2)  The course creator has excellent intentions, but doesn’t know how to design a course that actually produces transformation. 

I know that if you have read this far, use case #1 above does NOT apply to you, which means, you WANT your online course to produce real transformation.

The challenge then lies in understanding how to make that happen.

Here's what transformation looks like in each of the five domains of learning described by educational theorist and researcher Robert M. Gagné.

In my book, Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online, I share how to use Gagné’s research into the domains of learning to set up your course to produce real transformation.

What I want to explore here is, WHY do we need five different ways to produce transformation?

I mean, change is change is change, right?

Wrong!

The collage of faces of surprised people

Different kinds of change require different teaching strategies, because of the different ways we RESIST each kind of change.


Now let’s get a high-level view of how to set up a course that produces real transformation.

In order to overcome resistance, pretty much any kind of transformation works best when we approach it from the right mindset, so let’s start by exploring mindset change.

MINDSET CHANGE

Woman changing smileys on her face


Surprisingly, when you set out to produce mindset change (meaning, to help people change their attitude and the resulting behaviors), the first thing to do (based on Gagné’s research and what I’ve discovered works from helping hundreds of creative experts set up their own online courses) is to start by helping your learners understand WHAT DOESN’T WORK: the unhelpful attitudes they COULD adopt, or maintain, if they want to.

Depressed woman lying on couch in messy room isolated flat vector illustration. Cartoon lazy character resting on sofa at home and surfing internet on smartphone. Apathy and indifference concept


Why would you start a course that promotes positive mindset change, by focusing on what DOESN’T work?


Here’s why: mindset change is a CHOICE. 


If you want people to actually change their mindset and resulting behaviors (instead of just SAYING they’ve changed while continuing to do what they were doing before), they have to first realize they COULD just keep doing what doesn’t work… and understand the long-term consequences of NOT changing.

The resistance to mindset change comes from the natural tendency we all have to want to stay in our comfort zone. It’s only natural, right? Lounging on the couch scarfing down carbs is a lot easier than getting up early to train for that half marathon... at least, at first.


So to produce mindset change, people need to first understand that change is their choice, and see the long-term consequences of NOT choosing to change.

  • You can keep scarfing down carbs… and here’s what you ‘ll look and feel like in 50 years.
  • You can NOT work hard to learn that new thing... and here’s how not knowing it will impact your performance and promotions at work over the next 10 years
  • You can smoke a pack a day for the rest of your life, and here’s what your lungs will look like compared to the lungs of someone who chooses to quit smoking now
  • (and so on...)

Seeing the long-term negative consequences of NOT choosing to change, counteracts the natural tendency we all have to want to stay in our comfort zones.

That’s why the first thing to teach in a mindset change course is what doesn’t work.

Next, people have to know what does work, which is the heart of the course’s teaching content.

But knowing what does work is still not enough to produce real mindset transformation.

People need to see concrete examples of what positive mindset change looks like, in the form of role models or case studies.

 They need to be inspired and to see that making the choice to change is possible because others have successfully done it.

Young man standing in front of large superhero shadow on white background

So now we’re good to go with mindset change, right?

NOPE... that’s still not enough!

Because changing our mindset and resulting behaviors is really really hard.

Even:

  • knowing what doesn’t work
  •  learning what would work better, and
  • seeing how others have successfully made the change

are still not enough!

There are two more very important pieces to the mindset change puzzle.

People need help getting in touch with WHY they want to get out of their comfort zone to make this change. 

They need an immediate short term “why” (that motivates them to take immediate action so they can get some quick wins) and they need a deeply compelling long term “why” so they can keep going over time.

If your reason for changing your attitude about healthy eating is that you want to look great for your friend’s wedding in three months, you need a longer-term reason to keep at it once the wedding is over.

And finally, the MOST important aspect of mindset change is

 long term ongoing support,

which means that producing lasting mindset change is a great foundation for an online membership or a coaching practice.

Heart hands as a group of diverse people hands connected together shaped as a love symbol expressing the feeling of being happy and togetherness.

Is mindset change an important part of YOUR online teaching program?

To learn more about how to create mindset change that really sticks, read my book, 

3D book mockup including back cover

For a deeper dive into mindset change and how it impacts us as online course creators, check out my blog post,

 “Are you ready for a mindset make-over”,

which focuses on the mindset changes we may need to make OURSELVES as digital entrepreneurs in the online learning space.

Video call or conference concept with men and women working together. Virtual meeting

I’d love to hear about YOUR experiences in producing mindset change that really sticks… let’s talk!

Join us at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting

Saturdays at 9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern, on Zoom,

where we focus on how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning in these challenging times.

(These meetings are one of the ways  I provide long term ongoing support for all of us, as online course creators! 

It would be great to see you there!)

Come to the

Learn and Get Smarter Community Meeting

Group of Multiethnic Diverse World People

Saturdays

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern on Zoom

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

Are You Ready for a “Mindset Make-Over”?

Woman changing smileys on her face

Here’s a scenario I see playing out over and over: an expert is passionate about teaching others how to do something by teaching a “how-to” skill (a type of learning which educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné calls “intellectual skills”).

But it soon becomes apparent that before people can learn how to perform this new skill, they are going to need a mindset make-over.

It’s true for everyone: before we are ready to learn the steps that go into performing a new skill, we need to be motivated and in the right frame of mind to believe we can do it.


Can you relate? 

How’s YOUR mindset doing these days?



If I’m honest, my mindset has gotten a bit frayed around the edges by the events of the past year.

Can we talk here?

First of all, those of us in the online education space are, I think, among the luckiest people on the planet.

In sharp contrast to many businesses, ours have been impacted POSITIVELY by the Coronavirus pandemic.

One definition of learning is that it involves adapting to our environment in ways that promote survival.

The pandemic has literally thrown the issue of survival into high relief on a global scale.

People are hungry to learn new skills, new attitudes, new ways of learning and being.

 And the pandemic has pushed the location of that learning online.

 So all of us are in a position to benefit from that.

But we can’t benefit if we don’t know how… if we don’t have the skills. That’s what the Course Design Formula® helps you do. It helps you develop the skills needed to teach effectively, online.

In addition to my high-level mastermind, the Course Design Formula® Master Course, which just launched for the fifth time with a wonderful new cohort of experts and entrepreneurs, I’ve created a short, fast, effective (and much less expensive) self-paced course, Streamlined Course Creation, to help anyone outline their course and plan all their lessons in just a few days.

Can we talk business here? I absolutely adore what I do… and am incredibly grateful for each of you... my wonderful community, readers, clients, students, supporters, family and friends.

It takes a village not just to raise a child but to support a business, and I’m incredibly thankful and grateful for the village I’ve built over the past 7 years since founding Learn and Get Smarter, Inc.

Each of us as entrepreneurs is like the catalyzer who provides the “stone” for the “Stone Soup”: we provide an idea, an incentive, a spark…something that energizes a community around an idea in order to turn it into a reality.

In order to do that well, we MUST have a strong, positive mindset that not only keeps US inspired to turn a vision into a reality, but inspires others as well.

A positive mindset is essential to make a business work. It doesn’t matter how many skills we have... if our mindset is not steady, strong, and positive, our businesses are not going to work.

Young and timid woman with head in the cloud sitting on bench

Why do we need a positive mindset? Well I’ll be honest here. I worked incredibly hard this past year. It was my first year of making real revenue in the business, and I am so grateful for that. But the business costs a lot to run. There are payments for platforms, hosting, infrastructure, services, security, training, accounting, the list goes on. So even though I had a great revenue year, my actual profits were very small. In order to have a successful ongoing business that really makes money, I need a way to SCALE my business so the profits are large.. so that revenue coming in far exceeds the annual cost I must pay to keep the business going and online.

But as you know, my passion is teaching, not selling. I’m not really a businesswoman. I’m an educator, and from what I’ve seen over and over again at conferences and from talking to others, the mindset needed to succeed in business and the mindset needed to teach effectively are not always the same.

If I want to be able to KEEP teaching effectively in the online space, though, I have to do more than make revenue. I have to make a profit. A GOOD profit.

Doodle showing creative business ideas for making money

And in order to do that, I have to be able to scale. My experience over the past 7 years has shown me that my coaching and Master Course, while wonderfully successful from a TEACHING point of view, are not going to be able to scale.

Coaching by definition is not scalable because it’s limited by the coach’s time, and we all have limited time.

My Master Course works so well as a teaching and learning experience because it’s limited to small batch cohorts of about 10 new people each. That means I can devote a lot of time and attention to each new student, which is what I love to do.

The Master Course is scalable in terms of IMPACT. If each new student goes out into the world and teaches in highly effective ways, which my Master Course students ARE doing, the global impact of effective online teaching using the Course Design Formula® will grow.

But if potential revenue from the Master Course is capped at about $20,000 total revenue twice a year, that’s not a scalable (or even successful) business, because it costs me more than that to keep everything going.

So I created Streamlined Course Creation, a self-paced evergreen course that sells for $497. And now I need to figure out how to sell that course in a scalable way. And (can we talk here? I know I’m among friends) I hate selling. I hate it with a passion. Which is NOT the right mindset for an entrepreneur, at all. Which means I need a mindset makeover.

I’m sharing my story here in the hopes that it will resonate with you, and help you to examine your own mindset too.

What are your mindset blocks and limiting beliefs

 that are stopping you from growing and succeeding in YOUR online course business?

And more importantly, how can you address them?

The way to bring about effective mindset change, based on Gagné’s research into how people learn, is to follow a five-fold process.

Let’s review that now:

  • Get clear on   what ISN’T working to bring about the desired mindset change
  • Get clear on what WILL work... the path that should be followed
  • Find inspiring role models who are demonstrating the desired mindset
  • Find your WHY for adopting the desired mindset. This has two parts:
  •                Find your immediate, short term WHY
  •                Find your overarching, long term WHY
  • Get long-term ongoing support for adopting the desired mindset

Mindset change is different than other types of learning because it involves our emotions, not our intellect.

One of my students shared a very deep piece of wisdom, when they reflected that even though I as the teacher had EXPLAINED how to do something, it was a very different experience for them when they actually tried to DO that same thing.

It’s one thing to remember what was taught and understand how to do it (the two lowest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy) ... but another thing entirely to actually APPLY what was taught.

Applying learning is hard. It takes us out of our comfort zone. And that requires a strong supportive mindset in order to keep us motivated long enough to master the new skill and succeed. This is true of all learning, of any kind.

Now take the kind of learning that will enable us to succeed as entrepreneurs running our own businesses… requiring many complex skill sets and the overcoming of constant challenges. If we don’t have our mindset dialed in, nothing beyond that point is going to work.

I need a mindset makeover right about now, and I was wondering if you might too.

Let’s look at the five-step Mindset Makeover Method™ and see how we can apply it to our own situations.

I’ll go first, by way of example

(See what I did there? Being a role model!)

 and I hope you will share your situation too via email

(See what I did there? Creating long term ongoing support).

THE MINDSET MAKEOVER METHOD™

stick figure in balance with pros and cons

Step 1: identify what’s not working

People ask me… “Rebecca, you’re trying to bring about a POSITIVE mindset change, so why are we starting by focusing on the negative?”

It’s a great question, and the reason is, that mindset change is a CHOICE.

People always have the option of continuing their current mindset.

So it’s important to be clear about why that’s not an EFFECTIVE thing to do, and what the long-term consequences of making that choice will be.

That said, the learner always has the option of continuing the ineffective mindset and the behaviors that go along with it.

(But if they choose the ineffective way, there’s not much point in going farther into a mindset change experience, is there?)

🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

So what’s not working for me?

Hmm. I’ve been allowing myself to dwell on the negative, to think about all the reasons why I might NOT be able to successfully scale my business, why I don’t really want to, telling myself I’m an educator not an entrepreneur, rehashing cultural trainings about why money is the root of all evil and so on. I’ve been visualizing myself living down by the river in the homeless encampment. (Energy follows thought, so this is an especially unhelpful practice to follow!)

I’ve been wallowing in ancestral teachings about how women shouldn’t bother their pretty little heads about making money. I could go on and on.

So basically, I’ve been renting out space in my brain to all the energies and forces that DON’T want to see me succeed.

Once I put that down on paper like that and share it with you, I can see how extremely unhelpful those habits and practices are. All of that has to stop NOW.

STOP sign


In addition, I can see that I’m succumbing to a bit of pandemic fatigue. I’ve been slipping on daily habits of self-care, home care, and so on. It’s like, who cares, why bother, it’s all too much. I’ve been working 18-hour days for the past 12 years, made good money this year but only made a tiny profit, and then got hit with a $10,000 tax bill because I’d made revenue.

So it’s understandable that all of that is quite demotivating… plus the post-pandemic landscape that’s emerging shows that many things I loved and found sustaining... from my weekly Pilates class to local venues for relaxation and fun… are not returning in the form they were in before, or in any form at all.

All work and no play becomes demotivating for anyone.

So perhaps one of the helpful things I need to do going forward, is find NEW ways to relax and have fun, so as to be able to work in a sustainable way.

There’s an elephant in the room whose presence it’s unhelpful not to recognize -- and that is that while we don’t yet know what shape life will take in the post-pandemic landscape, life as we knew it is never going to be the same.

Asian elephant in lying on rug in living room


I think it’s time to acknowledge and face that now, and I think one reason I’ve been feeling down is that I need to process my grief about all that we’ve lost.

Whether that’s actual people that so many have lost this year, ways of living and working and being and doing and sharing, travel, human connection, the list goes on.

I’m realizing that we are not just in a temporary interruption to our ongoing way of life. We are in a new reality, whose nature is still unknown... and that means that the loss of our old reality needs to be mourned.

Facing that loss, and dealing with the feelings of sadness and loss it brings up, is an important part of being able to let go of what was and move on to creating the most positive vision possible of what can be.

Someone cutting the "im" off the front of the word "impossible" to change it to "possible"


Step 2: Identify what would work better

So let’s explore that. What CAN work better than these unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving?

Working our way up Maslow’s hierarchy, I need to start with positive self-care habits every day. I lost almost 30 lbs. last year by writing down everything I ate using the Weight Watchers appbut lately I’ve had a “why bother” attitude towards doing that. I need to start writing everything down again because I still have another 30 lbs. I want to lose. That’s an achievable long-term goal to work towards, and it starts with tiny habits practiced every day.

I need to say NO to any of those negative thoughts and all that negative self-talk about business and money and marketing and sales.

Just got off a call with a wise business mentor, which made me realize that what I’m doing is not even about ME, it’s about YOU, and the people you serve.

There are several areas out there in the world of online business that do not always work as well as they should. One is the business of helping people SELL things online. Some people are good at selling their own marketing services, but not everyone is as good at promoting the services of those they market to. The same is true for the business of TEACHING online. Many people are good at selling online courses, or selling the IDEA of online courses. What I’m here to do though is help people ensure their online courses are WORTH selling because they actually teach effectively.

 I need to find the people and organizations for whom knowing how to do that would make a critical difference. I need to stop thinking about what I need to GET, and start figuring out who I can best SERVE with my Streamlined Course Creation Course.

So I guess one of the things that would work better, mindset-wise, would be to adopt the mindset embodied in the Allegory of the Long Spoons.  (You can read about it here.) The gist of the story, and the point of the mindset shift, is that everyone benefits when we use our tools and resources (the long spoons) to feed and nourish others, rather than focusing on "getting all the things" for ourselves.  🥄🥄🥄🥄🥄🥄🥄

Social network scheme, which contains flat people icons.

Step 3: Find inspiring role models to emulate

I started watching a wonderful reality TV show called “Undercover Billionaire”. I found it by accident, just browsing for something to watch, but it’s actually the perfect thing that I needed, and you may find it inspiring as well.

 The premise of the show is that a highly successful self-made businessperson gets dropped off in a community where they don’t know anyone. They can’t use their real name, their connections, or their money. All they have is $100 in cash and a cellphone with no contacts, and they have to build a business worth one million dollars in 90 days.

The show is fascinating as it reveals the mindset that successful entrepreneurs use to bring about societal change. I won’t reveal the details because I hope you’ll watch it yourself and find it as inspiring as I do…but the point I want to make here is WHY I find it so inspiring.

The people in the show did not have to do this. They are all highly successful people living comfortable lives. They did this because they wanted to challenge themselves (which is one of the things that we all share as entrepreneurs, I think... a desire to challenge ourselves) and they wanted to make a difference and show that the American Dream is still alive and still attainable.

One of the things that makes entrepreneurs so fascinating is that we are each unique. We are groundbreakers and disruptors who bring in new ideas. My secret sauce, for example, is that I help you turn your mind into money, in a way that makes the lives of the people you serve, better.

The TV show makes me realize that it’s worth it to do hard things and get out of my comfort zone, not for the sake of making money (which is not something that motivates me very much per se) but for the sake of making a difference for people (which DOES motivate me, a lot).

The show also demonstrates how each entrepreneur (there are multiple entrepreneurs in Season 2) uses their OWN unique skill set to create value for others. This inspires me to keep going in discovering what’s unique and special that I offer, and how it can make the world a better place.

Hands together equalty concept. Hand drawn Illustration

Step 4: Find your WHY

This is the most important aspect of mindset change. If you don’t know WHY you need and want to change your mindset and behavior, (or worse, if you don’t even HAVE a why for doing so), then there’s no incentive for getting out of your emotional comfort zone and doing things differently, in ways that are often painful, hard, and new at the beginning.

First you need to find your short term why, and then your longer term why.

The short term why will keep you motivated to get over any initial resistance to changing your mindset, and the long term why will keep you going for the long haul.

What’s MY why?


My short term why is that I need and want to find the ideal target market for my Streamlined Course Creation course, this year. I need to get proof of concept: to prove that a self-paced evergreen (and therefore, scalable) online course can be highly effective at helping people apply the Course Design Formula® to their unique subject matter in ways that work for them. I need to figure out who would most benefit from this self-paced evergreen model, and start reaching out to them.

My long term why is that unless we can ENSURE that self-paced, evergreen online courses actually WORK to teach effectively, the market for online courses is going to dry up. We will still be able to teach online in live synchronous ways (such as Zoom meetings), and coaching. But those are not scalable business models that take advantage of the affordances of the online learning space to provide asynchronous instruction: anytime, on demand.


Many people are making money selling online courses, but my goal is to ensure that everyone who does that is also making a lot of DIFFERENCE with their online courses -- because the courses really WORK to provide the promised transformation.

Everyone I talk to has stories to tell about online courses they’ve paid good money for, that didn’t deliver the promised results.

Most of us have experienced for ourselves that we’ve paid for a course and then not taken it.

Maybe some of that is on us.  You can’t blame the manufacturer of a treadmill if the person who purchased the treadmill never takes it out of the box.

But if the box is hard to open or the treadmill is hard to set up or doesn’t work as promised, then it IS the manufacturer’s fault.

My goal is for every online course creator who WANTS to create a high-quality learning product that really delivers, to have the skills they need to do so, in a way that is fast and effective for them.

My long-term why is to be able to make that happen for everyone in the world who wants to do it, in a scalable evergreen way... so that we can all prove that online learning really WORKS to help people learn and get smarter.

And my deeper why behind THAT is to preserve the market for online courses, which is going to dry up (its already happening, and we need to turn that trend around FAST).

Because if too many people buy too many online courses that DON’T deliver on their promises, people will simply stop buying online courses, and who can blame them?

We need to make sure that doesn’t happen, and as online course creators, that is up to us.

My long term why is to make sure that doesn’t happen to YOU.

Group of people on peak mountain climbing helping team work , travel trekking success business concept

Step 5: Get long term ongoing support

Mindset change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This is where your “village” comes in.

I notice that the Undercover Billionaires all made finding people to connect with, one of the first things they did when plunked down in the middle of an unknown city.

Building connections is essential to building a business, finding a target market, and selling a course.

Along those lines, I’d like to give a shout out to Sophie Lechner. Using her  LinkedIn Magnet Method, Sophie helps entrepreneurs increase sales by building meaningful relationships with clients and influencers across global markets. Her secret sauce in helping people build meaningful connections and community is truly amazing.

I’m learning so much from Sophie’s LinkedIn coaching. That said, my mindset in using LinkedIn is one of the things I need to change. I’ve been much more familiar and comfortable with Facebook. LinkedIn works differently, and I’m grateful to Sophie for helping me understand how to navigate the platform and build meaningful networks for mutually supportive business connections.

Mindset change is an ongoing process.... that’s why you need LONG TERM support, and why you need a LONG TERM “WHY” to keep you going.

I think the main thing I need to realize (and perhaps you do, too) is what makes my products and services unique. Each of us occupies a specific niche in an online ecosystem.

We provide products and services that no one else does, to a specific market that no one else serves (or that no one else serves in exactly the same way we do). In fact, one thing that I find effective is to find other entrepreneurs who DO serve your same market, in ways that are complementary to what you provide. That way you can refer the same clients to each other to provide added benefits that your target audience needs.

Case in point: I’m grateful to Kim Garnett aka “Brainy Girl” who helps online course creators get their courses set up on Thinkific. Kim’s self-paced Thinkific Bootcamp is an AMAZING, one-of-a- kind resource you can use to optimize your Thinkific site. Kim and I provide complementary services to similar audiences, and I’m grateful for the synergy created when entrepreneurs can support each other and their respective target audiences through mutual referrals that provide expanded areas of expertise.  (The links in this paragraph are my affiliate links for Kim’s programs).

How about you?

What unhelpful mindset and behavior habits are YOU engaging in, that are holding you back from your business potential and growth?

Has the pandemic gotten you down in ways you need to get up from?

How can I be part of YOUR long-term ongoing support community?

Drop me a note to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and tell me about YOUR “mindset makeover” and how you plan to accomplish it…I’d love to hear!

Come to the Learn and Get Smarter

community meeting

Where we talk about how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning 

in these challenging times

Saturdays at

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

The current pandemic and learning

Social distancing, keep distance in public society people to protect from COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak spreading concept, businessman, woman keep distance away by drawing circle with virus pathogens

At the most fundamental, biological, level, learning is the process of adapting to one's environment in ways that promote survival. 

Which means that all of humanity is currently facing a learning task of tremendous proportions.

One of the things I've heard most often during the past week, is that we can't know how to adapt, because we are dealing with an unprecedented situation that has many unknown factors. As a society, we have no prior knowledge of how to deal with this pandemic.

In our community discussion last Saturday, we came to the realization that while we don't have the answers, we do have an important question:


What is the most helpful MINDSET we can adopt,

 as individuals and as communities,

to cope with the tremendous learning challenge we all now face?

We decided that this coming Saturday,

we will use the format and structure of a mindset change course to guide our discussion of these issues.

Following the format of a mindset-change course, here's what we will discuss:

Orange Colored Pencil Standing Out From The Crowd
  • What  unhelpful or ineffective attitudes and behaviors have contributed to the current crisis?
  • What attitudes and behaviors will be more helpful and effective, going forward?
  • What is our personal and collective motivation for adopting the helpful attitudes we discover?
  • Can we find some role models of successful adaptation to a crisis of these proportions?
  • How can we  provide each other with long term ongoing support to reinforce the helpful attitudes we discover?


Come join the discussion on Saturday. 

I'll limit it to two hours

(if we need more time, we can continue the following week).

Learn how to set up a mindset change course by creating one together as a community.

Let's brainstorm and create synergy as we focus on discovering helpful, effective ways to contribute to positive change in the face of this crisis. 

I can't think of  a deeper, or more relevant, definition of "learning" than that. Hope to see you at the meeting!

 Saturday April 4, 2020

9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

many people online in a conference call

Register here to receive the meeting link and password.

What are your three words for 2020?

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Master business storyteller Chris Brogan has come up with a fascinating and creative way to set himself and his business up for success for a new year. He calls his technique "My Three Words" and you can learn about it on his blog at https://chrisbrogan.com/3words2020/.

Chris has been using this method since 2006, and in the process he's discovered that it's important to choose exactly three words to define what you want for the year ahead.

Why three words?

Whether you are dealing with physics or metaphysics, it takes three points to establish a circuit through which energy can flow. There's the positive pole, the negative pole, and the magnetic field established between them.

In selecting three words for the year, we are creating a focused three-part lens through which energy can flow into our lives. We are selecting what we will notice and observe, and that in turn helps determine what there IS to observe.

My three words for 2020

Prosperity

Service

Joy​

Why and how did I choose these three words? 

Prosperity: My goal for 2020 is to grow my business, and help you grow yours, by designing and delivering online courses that really teach, at a deep level.

I am envisioning prosperity for myself, my students, and clients. 

My vision of prosperity includes abundance in all areas of life:

  • Good health
  • Good relationships
  • Solid, steady, and abundant financial support
  • Connection with, and guidance from, one's highest and best self

Service: A community that I belong to recently lost a great leader, teacher, and man. His sudden and unexpected passing makes me reflect on what it truly means to teach. When you teach someone something that provides value to them in their life, you are giving them an eternal gift. If they then go on to teach others because of what you taught them, that gift gets passed on through time, in perpetuity. And all of those blessings come back to you, as well as to them, in an eternal virtuous cycle.True teaching, at its highest and best, IS service: service to the growth of humanity and the progress of civilization. (If those words sound lofty and ideal, it's because they truly ARE). I believe that teaching is the noblest profession, and that we are lucky indeed to be engaged in it. If I can help people teach at their highest and best, in a way that enables them to reach a global audience, I will have fulfilled the purpose I was born for.

Joy: And that, in turn, will lead to joy.... for myself, for my students and clients, and for THEIR students and clients as well. My mission is to light up the planet, one mind at a time, by helping people teach beautifully online. There is nothing like the joy of seeing the lights go on when someone "gets it" and learns something in a way that truly works for them. I want that joy for myself in the year ahead.. and more importantly, I want that joy for you.

How about you?

What three words would you pick, to help you make 2020 the year you want it to be for your business and life?

Come on over and let's talk about it in the Facebook group, or write to me at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com.

I wish you and yours a very happy and totally fabulous New Year!

2020 A Happy New Year logo