May 30, 2014

Reflection is Learning

Two experiences down. We're in the home stretch now of this learning journey, but it's really just the beginning.

In the last meetup, there was much action around the idea that reflection is learning. Sure, I'm a founding student of Experience Institute where we believe in learning by doing. We're discovering, though, that it's in that reflection time after the doing that you're able to deepen your learning. Allow me to illustrate with an example.

In the last term, I spent three months in rural Philippines working on a sustainable regeneration project. We banded together with Earthship Biotecture to build a typhoon proof bunker made primarily from tires, earth and recycled bottles, the world's first Windship. I landed in Cebu before the the build started to secure materials and help out with logistics. Then, I helped host 100 people from around the world in a village without electricity and running water for 10 days. During this whole time, I was the chief storyteller, running around and capturing more than 5,000 photos and videos attempting not to miss anything. During that first month, I remember thinking that I've learned a lot about storytelling and how to build structures that are regenerative.

After the build, I took some time to reflect on what I had learned by putting different pieces of the puzzle together before transitioning into the next piece of the Earth Village Project. Victor encourages us to be diligent in our documentation, so I've been taking time to write and reflect regularly, with intention. In our meetups, each student returns from their leaps and we open up our toolbox to sharpen our self-awareness, storytelling, community building, operations and design thinking tools. We also use these tools to help us synthesize our experiences, putting them into the context of the whole term, the whole year, our whole lives even. I've found these reflection learnings to be the most pertinent and transformational gifts from Experience Institute.

Reflection is Learning

So what did I synthesize about the Philippines Windship experience? It was only the beginning of a number of intense encounters in the Philippines and it helped put the whole 3 months into perspective. I discovered a more harmonious balance between my desire to be the storyteller and be part of the story at the same time. I got to hang out with Michael Reynolds, and observe the product of his resiliency to stick with a vision for 30 years before it gets popular. I see a life pattern emerging--I've got a tendency of leaping into very challenging experiences that shake me at the core. Maybe that's why I'm such a firm believer that you learn most from setbacks.

I've been a nomad for seven years and have been blessed with beautiful experiences. I've never reflected on these experiences so intentionally before. In the act of reflecting on this year as its happening, I'm reflecting on a whole life's worth of experiences. I'm discovering that this reflection is where I'm learning more than I've ever learned in my life.

How do you reflect?

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