Use it or Lose It

When you get done with your educational experience the challenge will be, especially related to the length of your recovery period, making sure you don’t forget the most valuable parts of what you’ve learned.

If you’ve been through school before (which all of you have) you’ll be able to list hundreds of things you learned, never used, and have since forgotten.  95% of my French vocabulary is gone.  Even my koine Greek vocabulary, which is more recently studied and more often used, is greatly diminished from what I knew at the end of my last Greek test.  And could you diagram a sentence today?  I’m betting you hesitated there, just like I did when I thought about it.  “Maaaaaaybeeeeeeee?????”

The good news is once you use the knowledge for something valuable to you it comes back quickly.  The bad news is that it still takes deliberate action and most of us, when finishing school, have huge numbers of responsibilities that get sucked quickly into the vacuum created by school ending, and no longer needing that 20-25 hours each week for your degree program.

One way to make sure you use it before you lose it, is to find others who can benefit from what you’ve learned and who would be interested in some one on one “learning time.”  It takes some effort, and you won’t likely find anyone who wants to learn everything, but you may be able to find 1-3 people who will want to learn about your HR module or the finance module and help keep it fresh.

Another way that might work for you is before all the time is allocated to new/old items that you’re “saving” not going to school, set aside 2 hours or so each week to review one course and write down 3-4 ways you can apply what you’ve learned in your current job.

Hopefully you’re reading this near the end of a successful attempt to change horses midstream, or you can bookmark it for later, but make sure you don’t invest 18 months and 1000+ hours of time into a learning experience only to have a degree to put on the wall, but nothing that makes you better at your work.  No matter what job you have, or are working to attain, there is much in the EMBA curriculum that will allow you to shine as a worker and catch the attention of whoever is making that decision you’re concerned about related to raise, promotion, transfer, etc.

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Time Hopping Milestones

One of my daughters recently got me hooked on TimeHop.  It’s an app that lets you pull up what you did a year ago or two years or whatnot on the same day.  It’s kind of fun to look back, especially considering what I was doing last year at this time.

A year ago today I was just getting over jet lag from my trip to India.  Some days it’s hard to believe that a year ago today I was still in school…still waiting to finish the ordeal.  In fact, right now, TWO years ago today I was still in school, taking the first accounting class in the EMBA program.

It’s nice to think back and remember.  Sometimes that can be sentimental, remembering only the good parts and forgetting how hard it was on me and my family.  That’s not really all that helpful.  It can lead to discontentment and distraction.

Other times it can be more helpful:  What did you learn?  What experiences changed you?  How?  What can you discern differently about the experience now that you have some distance from the experience?  Would you still make the same decision again?

I’ve had fun thinking through where I would be if it was a year ago during this year away from school, and now that I’m through the recovery period the time for empty sentimentality is over.  I can confidently say, though there is much that I would do differently before and during the EMBA program, I have no doubts that it was the right and best decision to go.  The day to day payoff in the way I think because of the classes, the instructors, and especially the other students is profoundly helpful every single week.

Milestones are a great help along the journey…just don’t let them become an unhelpful distraction instead.

Historical Context

You can read the about the blog page (link agove) for a summary.  Here, for preservation and your enjoyment, is the “About this Blog” page that I wrote when I started the EMBA program in August of 2014, with some minor edits after that.  Should put the rest of this blog in context.  The links all go to my main blog (jameslansberry.wordpress.com) but all of those posts are here at Changing Horses Midstream without all the rest of writing I’ve done there.  Enjoy:

My life is crazy in general (see posts on craziness here, and here). We have nine children. I have an amazing, but crazy busy job with huge responsibilities. And the craziness hit a new level this year with my starting into the EMBA program at Bradley.

So when discussing all of this craziness with my wife one day I said, “I think I should start a blog about my experience as an EMBA student with nine children and a busy job.” Because, you know, one more thing once you’re already a few fries short of a happy meal couldn’t make much difference, right?

I previously shared why I’m going back to school.  So now that I have started the program at Bradley, I thought I’d share with you the reasons I’m writing.

Nobody, my wife and me included, thinks I’m sane for pursuing this. Not that I’ve talked to at least. But very few people think it’s a stupid decision.  As the name of the blog indicates, it’s a major, difficult, potentially-getting-wet deal.

Is it possible I could crash and burn over the fifteen months of heavily intensified everyday insanity? Yup. No doubt. But we have a plan. And the plan involves “venting” a little bit while it’s going on and letting the whole world (there’s a coming post about being an extrovert someplace) in on the fun. Because it’s just that much fun that you should get to share it. And if I crash and burn, you’ll be able to see it in full, 4.5megapixel color.

Once I graduate, I have some different goals for the blog (and for the use of the posts that are already here) but right now it’s just this:  I’m living a story.  My story involves taking my raw, undeveloped skills to the next level so that I can be a better leader and manager here at Samaritan Ministries.  And as I live this particular story, I want to catalogue it in a manner that hopefully will be interesting to you, the readers.

So if you stop by my little corner of the web to watch me as I try to change horses in the middle of a river, here’s what to expect:

  • I post most weeks four times.  Stop by at about 10am Central time on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and you’re nearly certain to see a new post, holidays sometimes excepted.
  • I try to keep posts somewhat short, but length is content related not based on column inches.
  • Monday and Thursday I post about life and school.  Something personal in every post.  I’m trying to get as much out there as I can about the schooling experience and how it’s affecting my life and family.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday are generally shorter posts linking to something of interest:  an iPhone app, an article I read, a product I use.  Sometimes it could be a picture or a YouTube video…I try to keep you readers guessing.
  • I’m giving a pretty transparent look into the struggles of being a dad, a husband, a student, and a senior executive at the same time.  Tears and laughter are poured into the posts.  I don’t bare my entire life and soul here, but I am trying not to sugar-coat the experience.  When I’m excited about something I’ll say so.  If I’m struggling you’ll know.

I like it when readers comment.  When I posted this page I had less than a dozen confirmed readers, but if you’re reading or sharing I’d love to know.  You can RT my posts on twitter (@jameslansberry) or share them on Facebook, but leaving a comment here on the blog gets read and I try to respond to all of them.

If you’d like me to post about something in particular or have a question, leave a comment with that on any post.  I moderate comments (hate spambots!) but anyone who leaves a non-anonymous serious comment will get posted.  I’ll post a more detailed comments policy later but so far I don’t have enough readers to have problem commenters.

Thanks for stopping by…I find the writing in itself worthwhile, but being an off-the-charts extrovert, I prefer to be a part of a crowd.  So if my writing annoys you and you have a helpful comment, I’d love to hear it.  I want to be interesting and popular.  Or at least one of those.  You can’t comment on this page (it’s a page, not a post, that’s why:  isn’t that the normal thing?) but everything else is fair game!

Recovery Period

Until yesterday, It’d been months since I posted on the blog. Literally. And as I said there It’s time for me to start entering back into the world again: posting to social media, writing for the blog, taking my work at Samaritan to the next level.

That starts now. The recovery period, and it’s accompanying denials of readiness for the next phase, is over.

If you do something insane like go back to school with a big family, plan for a recovery period at the end. I’ve spent the past 9 months trying to regroup a bit, reconnect with my family, and to rest. I took a long getaway with my wife where we went to San Francisco to celebrate our 20th anniversary, and we’ve already got one for next month on the planner to head to the Baja region of Mexico.

Over the past few months I’ve slept more. I watched a lot of Netflix/Prime videos and movies. I’ve played games with my kids and picked up household chores that I wasn’t doing while I was at school. We moved to a new house and have taken our sweet time getting our old house ready to rent.

We didn’t make anything a “pressing item.”

And that’s part of recovery. Margin. Lots of it. So much that paying two mortgage payments or throwing away 100 hours on several seasons of an old TV show won’t cause you to go broke or lose important tasks. And that’s what it’s been like. A lot of laziness. A lot of rest. A lot of mengana days.

I’m thankful for the recovery period, and I can’t recommend enough that you plan for your mid-stream change to have one too. It doesn’t need to be 10 months, but make sure it’s there. Otherwise you’ll burn yourself out. The mid-life change takes a lot out of you, and you need to be prepared for the ensuing collapse.

/recoveryperiod

#startthenextthing

It’s Time

So I woke up the other morning and had decided I wasn’t going to the gym today but I didn’t get back to sleep. A lot on my mind, for sure.

February 5. Over 8 months ago. That’s the last time I posted on this blog.

I had grandiose plans of the rebranding of the blog I’d do when I was done with school with all the new time I’d have. By “grandiose plans” I mean I had an item in my Trello board that said “Come up with post EMBA blogging strategy” with 3 comments and two topics listed on the card. Since January I’ve had two conversations with my wife wherein my only title suggestion was discarded and we briefly talked about what I’d like to accomplish.

And now it’s October. Nothing has happened. None of the “great ideas” have turned into any implementation.

I could make excuses or tell stories about how I’ve squandered time over the past 8 months, but none of it is very interesting. I’ve also learned that dwelling on “should have”s “could have”s and “didn’t”s is terribly unproductive and just makes me depressed. Better to focus on “can do”s “am doing”s and “next up”s. There’s always going to be failings in my life: I’m a fallen person with selfish desires and prone to laziness.

So I don’t have any grandiose plans. Nothing concrete to be sure. If you’re still reading and still subscribed you may be #smh’ing at me and wondering whether it’s worth it. Yet to be seen. What I do have is a decision…I’m starting to write again. The plans, like they always do for this off-the-charts extrovert, will develop over time as I write. I have some broad ideas of where I’ll go and what I want to write about and share with you…and those will become more defined as we go.

So it’s time. Time to start again. Today I go back to posting 3-4 times per week, building discipline on my writing and creativity. It’s time to get to work.

Updates and Changes

So I’m not going to school anymore, which means I have lots of spare time now, right? Not exactly.  As you can see (or have seen) the blog has laid blank for some time now.  This is my only post for the whole month of January.

I had intended to do better.

So what have I been up to?  Mostly recouping from a really crazy 16 months.  There were Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.  There were a couple of trips for work.  But mostly I’ve been letting my brain rest…perhaps too much.  It’s time to figure out what I’m doing with the time I’m not using for school besides just letting trivial things fill it in because of nature’s hated vacuum.

My plan was (before I got behind on the capstone and was slammed at work) to spend time in December and early January rebranding this blog.  The title no longer applies to what I’m doing:  I have successfully changed horses.  I have graduated (and maintained all A’s to boot) and I have my degree.  I’m working feverishly (or maybe not) to apply what I’ve learned at work and will be spending quite a bit of time trying to pass what I’ve learned on to others.

There should be some changes here at the blog going forward, most importantly posting beginning to happen again.  I’d tell you what it would look like but, well, I’m still figuring some of it out.  This posts represents my re-entry to the interwebs and the beginning of the transition phase as the new horse takes off.

Stay tuned!

You May Now Call Me “Master”**

Saturday morning I walked at graduation. I now have an MBA. A Master’s Degree.

I’m 2014-12-20 11.46.28kind of amazed in many ways that I made it.

It was a long, hard road, but it was worth it.  Going into the final exam I had a 4.0 GPA, which I’m a bit proud of.  I still haven’t gotten my grade for the exam (expecting it any minute).

My wife and parents and children have all expressed that they’re proud of me.  Having dropped out of college three times at comparatively less crazy times of my life it’s a pretty big deal that I finished.

I’m still kind of adjusting to the whole thing.  I’m done with school, even though I have alarms I haven’t fixed reminding me to study.  I graduated.  We moved (another post on that coming at some point when I catch my breath).  It’s Christmas time.

To tell the truth I’m feeling kind of emotional about all the change that I haven’t really had time to process.  This could be a really emotional time for me but I’m ready to jump into the next phase:  getting better at my jobs (husband and father included) and jumping on all the things that have fallen between the cracks over the past year and a half.

Stay tuned for what goes on as I ride the new horse!  Oh, and my other horse is a jetpack.

** My boss informed me that “Master Ted” was what people used to refer to him as when he was a young man (like less than 12), so my reply was that I’m now, after months of education, caught up to where he was at 12.

My Mom Has Been Waiting…

…since 1987.  To see me graduate from college, that is.

If you read my bio you know that I dropped out of college previously not once, but three times.  I am the only one of my siblings to not have a college degree.

But tomorrow I will walk at Bradley’s winter commencement and will in a few weeks receive a diploma for a Master’s Degree.

And my mom and dad will be there to watch me walk.  I’m not normally too caught up in pomp and circumstance (oh wait…was that pun intended?) but for my family to share this moment with me is incredibly rewarding.

You can follow the link above and watch on line if you’re interested (9:00AM central).

I know the blog has been quiet of late, and I hope to get back to things here soon more consistently.  After school finished we moved and now I’m trying to get things put back together at work and at home and then we’ll move forward into the next phase of the blog life.  For now, I’m enjoying a nice weekend with my family, finishing the race.

DONE!

Saturday morning I turned in my capstone project and made my final presentation. As of 8:20AM Saturday, I was done with the program. Assuming I pass the final (which I’m pretty sure I did), I will soon have my degree and will graduate on the 20th.

It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s a decent attempt at a strategic plan.  At one point “passing with distinction” was something I wanted to attain to.  But as I mentioned in posts last week, I majorly ran out of oomph at the end and I’m happy with not even getting an ‘A’ at this point.

I’ve been tired.  Tired enough that I couldn’t think straight or even act for periods of time late last week.  I had periods where I was on the verge of freaking out because of the amount of work left.  All through it my wife was encouraging and supportive.  And that’s despite her being busy trying to get our house ready to move into this weekend and being generally exhausted because of it.

It’s still kind of hitting me that we’re done.  It’s almost hard to believe at times, even.  And I’m still pretty tired and it’ll be Christmas most likely before I’m able to just sleep in on a day.  Especially since my wife is so worn out from all she’s been doing while I’ve been finishing school.

So we’re on to the next phase…moving to our new home.  And then it’ll be graduation, and Christmas, and New Year’s and the annual board meeting in January.

When the journey started, and several points along the way, I wasn’t sure that I’d make it through without giving up.  But here we are, and all that’s left is receiving my last grade and walking across the stage in a cap and gown.

It feels good to finally finish college.

 

Another Night at the Library

Last night I spent the evening working on my capstone. It’s still not done (yes I know it’s due tomorrow) but it’s pretty close. I didn’t pull another all nighter, but I was there pretty late.  I would have preferred to be home earlier, but I wanted to have my work at a certain level before I went to bed to make today all about printing and polishing.

It’s late in the program now (as late as it gets) and I’m running out of steam. I’m easily distracted and I have little drive to finish this.  I have been sorely tempted to cut corners and not care about the quality of the project.  It is not the grade that keeps me motivated though, even though this could break a significant streak in my class performance.  It’s that this project will be seeing actual use for Samaritan Ministries.  And any corners I cut have to come back and be fixed later…and I want it to be ready for the other leaders to read and interact with.

Tomorrow is it.  By 8:20AM I’ll be done with everything.  I won’t know for sure that I passed, but if the work I have can’t get a C (the minimum passing grade) I missed something obvious.  I’m pretty confident it will get at least a B and I can graduate in two weeks.