Sometimes random things happen. I embrace them as serendipity, as God’s plan, as opportunity. I rarely turn down a chance to try something new, unless it involves anything high up, very fast, or spinning, as I’m old enough to know all those things result in my lunch making an unwelcome return.
One of these random things happened yesterday. Hayley Maisey (@hayleymaisey) of Brightwave (@BrightTweet) tweeted me the image above for The #Blimage Challenge. I had no idea at all what it was all about, and I was without net connectivity so I could not investigate further. But without further ado, I tweeted I’m in. I later learnt this challenge was started by Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) in which he described #Blimage as sending an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. It has unleashed a flurry of interesting Blimage posts from a huge range of learning people. And I had got onboard, without knowing any of this.
Jumping into the unknown. Is this a dangerous way to live your life? Or a brave one? As I child I was pretty afraid of the unknown. I rarely think about it now as over time I’ve learnt that a life lived jumping in confidently with two feet is a fun one. Living this way has resulted in me staying at University for 5 years due to simple opportunity. It has resulted in being blessed with three babies where I never imagined having any. It saw me walk away from my corporate role to work for myself. It has resulted in me living in Japan for a couple of years on little more than a whim.
To inspire my blog, Hayley shared an image of fantastic looking desserts. On first view I was immediately transported back to my days in Japan. Whilst the image is not of Japanese desserts in particular, there was something about the colour, the order, and the presentation which reminded me of my time in that traditional and most beautiful of countries. It is an odd place for anyone poorly travelled, as I was at the time. It is very disconcerting not being able to judge your surroundings against every known known to date. To tell if you were stood outside a supermarket or a library was a basic challenge. Everything is an unknown. To be able to read nothing at all, to glean no clues from the written language left us relying on every other sense we had; reading the landscape, feeling the geography, listening to noises, watching body language intently. Living in such an overtly alive way really heightened the experience of being there. I lived Japan with all of my body, in a way I had never lived England. To be honest when I returned to the UK I had sensory overload once I could read my surroundings and understand the language. I had quite a bout of reverse culture shock.
To be immersed in the learning experience of working and living in another country prepared me well for my later career in learning and development. I am actually aware of teaching to all the senses, of the joy and value in experiencing learning through more than the traditional formats, of the joy of learning and progressing and understanding. I find myself in a role now where I am slowly cajoling the L&D world out of a course booking traditional transactional face to face culture into one where anything goes, where learning happens with multi-sensory stimulation, with the whole body, with time and reflection, with embracing the unknowns. Japan is such a great analogy of exactly this type of evolution, from entrenched old ways to the ultra modern. Side by side in Japanese cities live high rise glass and steel structures which sit on spring technology to withstand constant earthquakes, nestled next to old Shinto shrines with beautiful torii gates. Blending together old and new seamlessly, naturally, successfully. Japanese people maintain their manners and customs yet embrace technology with world leading brands such as Panasonic, Sony, Mitsubishi. It is only in thinking about this Blimage that I have reflected just how well Japan has the old and new thing totally sorted. When living there my husband and I used to wonder on visiting beautiful Japanese Castles at the signs which proudly announced “Rebuilt in ferro-concrete” after Word War 2. Why rebuild the old? And if you are rebuilding it, why not use traditional materials? Of course the why is because in embracing new methodology the building can be protected from earthquakes, can be more easily heated and cooled, and can live on in the landscape for longer to be enjoyed and understood for generations to come. By taking something old and looking at it through new eyes, something better, something sympathetic, and something with purpose in a modern world can be built. In Learning & Development, I believe we can learn a lot from this approach.
Thanks Hayley for the opportunity for some Kairos time. I’ve enjoyed reflecting on Japan for The #Blimage Challenge. For anyone else wanting to get involved, here’s an image for you to inspire your learning related post.