In what has become almost a mantra for me, one of the ways I often synthesize my focus on the Snowflake Effect of mass personalization is getting to “just right”; just the right things for just the right person at just the right time in just the right way on just the right medium, in just the right context…………… well, you get the idea. For the past few years what I’ve been finding is that this can all be taken down to a single word and concept; fit.
When you think about it, a good fit is essentially defined as getting it just right, just for you, just at that moment. This could be for something simple like a favorite shirt, or sweater or pair of shoes. You know the ones we tend to choose over all others whenever we can because when we wear them, and often wear them out, they fit us just right and make us feel just right. Often they are not in the best condition, the “fashionable” choice at the time or other factors more commonly used to make such choices. Yet, because our favorites fit so well and make us feel so good we choose them whenever possible. Great fit is also a lot like that comment about great art; I don’t know how to describe it but I know it when I see it. Great fit is extremely elusive and deeply personal It has been no surprise to me then to also observe that this context and concept of fit works very well for many other and perhaps more profound examples such as one’s life style, personal relationships and learning.
Fit for Me
As some of you may know for the past few years I’ve been conducting a personal experiment by setting off on a grand adventure to see the world from the perspective of the world’s oceans by living aboard my sailboat Learnativity. So I’m typing this up sitting in the shade of my cockpit right now as I’m anchored off the small island of Malo near Neiafu in the Vava’u Group of islands in the Kingdom of Tonga and you can paste the lat/long of 18 39 56.2 S, 173 58 56.2 W into Google Earth or maps to see where that is and if you’re interested you can learn all about that on my Learnativity blog.
However the reason I mention this is one of my examples of the use of fit. What has been the biggest surprise to me of my adventures so far is how well this strange new life style and experiences fits me. I don’t come from any ancestral background of mariners, didn’t grow up around boats or the sea, and didn’t have any lifelong dream of sailing nor previous sailing experience. It is all very new and foreign to me. Yet it fits me to a T for some reason; the independence and freedom on one hand, the complete self reliance and dependence on myself I have for everything from navigation to power to water to food and everything in between. I was guided to it by using serendipity as my guide, listening to my heart and my gut more than my head, and by paying attention to how well things fit as the way to know which way to go, what was working and what wasn’t, what to say yes to and when to say no.
Fit as a way to Better and Greater Learning?
In the case of learning, it seems clear to me that a great fit is necessary for great learning to take place. We learn the best and the most when it is just right for us, just at that time, just in that context. Great learning then seems to also condense down to getting the best fit. What fits you best at any one time won’t likely fit me best. What fits you best today won’t likely fit you best tomorrow because some of the conditions and context have changed. Perhaps this will help you understand why I am so focused, some would say obsessed, for the past many years with the critical need to transform most learning methods from those based on mass production and sameness to ones of mass personalization and uniqueness; the Snowflake Effect.
Think back to some of your most recent moments when you experienced truly great learning of some kind, often very serendipitously in that it wasn’t planned or expected. What made that learning so great for you? What was different about that moment and the many others when it didn’t work? In the literally thousands of times I’ve posed this question to individuals I’m speaking with they initially struggle to explain it yet almost always end up describing how it was just the right choice of words or pictures or experience at just the right time, when they were in just the right frame of mind, etc. In other words, when the learning was just the right fit.
Therefore I’d like to encourage all of us to consider using “fit” in this context and as a way to determine what characterizes great learning. What are the parameters we can use to determine fit when it comes to learning? Perhaps we are best to use things like outcomes and results to measure the learning itself, but these are all after the learning takes place. For me at least, the bigger question is how do we increase not only the frequency of truly great learning experiences for every person on the planet? And for that, the use of fit is extremely helpful.
Exponentially Increasing the Frequency of Great Learning Experiences
One of the more troubling trends I’ve long noticed is that when the conversation of great learning moments comes up, it is a very revealing and rewarding conversation until you ask when you last had a great learning moment or how many have you had in your life. The answers are troubling to me because they are usually many years ago and a number that leaves many fingers unused. Therefore, one of the questions (I have several) that figuratively keep me awake at night and gets me out of bed every morning is how do we change this? How do we increase the frequency of great learning experiences? And incremental increases, while welcome just won’t do it for me because I think it is possible, and I might argue necessary, to exponentially increase the frequency of great learning; from a few experiences in a lifetime to many of them every day, for every person!
How is this even imaginable you ask? The topic of many more conversations to come to be sure, but in short my awareness and attention to finding and determining the best fit has helped me increase the frequency of my great learning experiences. I wanted to share this with you so you can try this concept of “fit” on for size yourself, and see if paying attention to fit and what makes for a good fit, helps you experience more great learning moments? What does fit mean to you in this context? What are its key characteristics? And the list goes on.
Can’t wait to hear back from you in your comments, your writings and our future conversations.
Wayne & Ruby the Wonderdog
Aboard s/v Learnativity
18 39 56.2 S, 173 58 56.2 W
Neiafu, Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga
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