Thursday, December 29, 2011

Core Phase Tune-up

I am learning a lot right now about the Phases of Learning as taught by Oliver and Rachel DeMille in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning.  I thought I understood them quite well but I’ve recently had a humbling experience that has showed me how little I’ve understood.  I’ve heard and read many times that you never leave the foundational phases, you just add to them but until now, I didn’t really get it. 

I “did” core phase and love of learning phase several years ago and have spent the last few years focused on scholar, depth, and mission phases.  When you begin Leadership Education as an adult, you typically will be working on a couple or a few phases simultaneously – not ideal, but if you miss the opportunity to take on the foundational phases as a child, you will probably have to do them while building and caring for your family.  In the last 6 months, I’ve noticed more things going wrong in my life than right.  As I’ve pondered and examined, I realized that 99% of my problems are rooted in core phase issues.  After being painfully humbled I accepted the fact that I needed to put my scholar and depth phase studies on hold while I focused my mental and emotional energy on a core phase tune up.

At first I worried that I had developed major character flaws and was becoming a bad person.  I worried that my personal core had become rotten.  This horrified me.  I want badly to be a good person and live with integrity.  After a lot of talking and pondering and processing I realized that I hadn’t totally lost my integrity and character, I had lost the habits that keep my character in check and protect my integrity.  I realized that making these habits is what Core Phase is all about.  For me these habits include things like:

  • Reading from my core book daily
  • Praying daily
  • Being a good friend, daughter, sister, wife, and mother
  • Following my family’s routine for personal hygiene and personal chores, especially taking care of myself before the kids wake up (things like going to bed and waking up on time, making my bed, exercising, showering, etc.)
  • Using a system for family work, meal preparation, family finances, and shopping,
  • Keeping my home organized and clean

At one time I had habits that addressed all of these things.  But in the last 3 years, my life has seen a fair amount of upheaval. 3 years ago, me, my husband and our then 5 yr old daughter moved to Utah for 3 months to adopt and be with our twins who were then very sick micro-preemies in a NICU (Born at 25 weeks at 1.5 pounds each).   Then, when the twins were 10 months old, on my oldest daughter’s 6th birthday, I had to have brain surgery.  It has been a wild ride.   Miraculously everyone is healthy and happy and together.  We survived. 

What didn’t, were my fundamental habits and systems.  We have been limping along for the last three years with a routine and systems that were designed around a different family in totally different circumstances.  And the most important of my personal habits?  They've all but disappeared.  Of course I’ve made changes along the way and we aren’t doing things the same way we used to but mostly, I’m just not doing half the things I used to.  I understood that with all the upheaval I would need to take a break from scholar and depth phases and I did.  I pulled out of my GWU classes, said no to every commitment outside of my home, and focused on my family for a couple years.  But what I missed, what I just didn’t get, what I’m being forced to learn now is:  When my circumstances change in any significant way, I need to redesign and reestablish all the habits, routines, and systems that keep me and my home running well.  Establishing or reestablishing a habit, routine, or system takes an enormous amount of mental and emotional energy.  I have found that I can’t work on more than one thing at a time, with any degree of success.  This is a very frustrating truth but I see no way around it.  Leo Babauta, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote an amazing post on this concept: The Single Changing Method.   I use a little bit different language to talk about this than Mr. Babauta (I’m not opposed to the word goal) but in principle, I’m with him 100%.

I evaluate the success of each day on whether or not I accomplished my one mini-goal for that day.  Of course I do a lot more than one thing each day, but it is all pretty much out of habit or in response to someone asking (or hollering) for my help.  The only thing I give a lot of mental and emotional energy to is my daily mini-goal.  Right now it is reading from my Core Book first thing in the morning.  When I don’t have to think about it anymore and it just happens, I’ll work on something else. Hopefully within a year, but maybe longer, I will have my new and improved routines and systems running in a smooth, habitual way.  Only then, will I be able to add scholar and depth phase back into the mix.  

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Great post. This is something that we all cycle through to some degree, and I appreciate your honest sharing of this decision. You will be missed at school, but I think you're on the right track.

I also think that you might be like me in that I am my own worst critic. I get too hard on myself, and focusing on one small thing to work on is a great way to work through that. Once again, thanks for sharing.

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