Looking Up

Ever been so busy you forgot to buy gas?

Just too busy!
Just too busy!

Ever been so busy you can’t send a text message saying how busy you are?

Ever been so busy that when you woke up for work it was dark, and now you look around and it’s dark again?


Been there. 

And I think generally this is the world a lot of us live in.  

Lots of projects, lots of stake holders, users, customers and learning aids to develop.

Lots of research to do, micro-learning, micro-videos, micro-blogs.

Lots of debunking to do for leadership (HR and otherwise) who are reading sound bites instead of valid research.  Myers-Briggs. Learning Styles, the myth of studying, the myth of taking notes.What’s a person to do?

Lots of curating, which means lots of reading, which turns into lots of tweeting, Facebooking, and G+’ing. Lots of book marking of favorites, feedly, Diigo, tumblr, “recipe” creation for IFTTT

Do not even get me started on blogging, slideshare creation, snap guide and LinkedIn posts which need creating.

Time to breathe

Time to “Look Up” 


A while back, Jane Bozarth   posted a few “Looking Up” pictures to Facebook. I didn’t tell her, and I probably should have, those pictures impacted me profoundly. (Ever been too busy with your life to express to others the impact they have had? Yeah it’s like that, so Jane here’s your public shout-out!). When was the last time I took a good look around me? What was happening that I should be aware of? Am I as aware as I should be, or could be? And as we close the year, now is as good a time as any to exam those thoughts.

Personally, “Looking Up” is about perspective.  I can look around me, see the snow on the ground, the dead flowers and frozen grass – but looking up there is a brilliant sky, blue, clear, perfect. I see the disgruntled customer in line, but then look beyond him and see a child happy, laughing, giggling at the day. Where we find gloom & doom, we can look up and see beauty. Breathe. Slow down. Gain perspective.

“Looking Up” is a choice, a choice we often forget to make. We get caught up in all the things we THINK we are supposed to be doing. Neglecting things that are truly important.  Anyone remember the Franklin Covey Time Matrix? Quadrant #2, the “Quadrant of Leadership” really should be the quadrant of “Looking Up”. Seeing things most people take for granted, and have simply forgotten.

Last night, driving home from dining out with Mr. Tipton, I put my phone down (which was tough I was reading a REALLY interesting article about Marissa Mayer) and looked up.  Pitch blackness, (I live out in nowhereville) with the exception of some of the brightest stars I can remember seeing. Lost in the night sky, I tried to remember the last time I made a mental note of the celestial night sky above me.  It had been awhile. Depressing really.

How does this tie together with L&D? I’m getting there, I promise. 


There are so many things that capture our attention today.  So many different things to manage with many hats to wear. One can easily get lost in the doom & gloom, repetitiveness of our day to day. As it is easy to forget to thank people who have made a difference – it is easy to forget that with each well intentioned L&D development; methodology, tool or trick that has run amok, there are those which have beauty. There are those where within its simplicity is magic. The mistake sadly, is L&D techniques/methodologies have been poked, prodded and forced into a pigeon hole where it can no longer breathe or adapt, where it no longer belongs. It is time to “Look Up” from 1960 research and rather than accepting it as mantra, look beyond and see where it all fits today.

From an L&D perspective – “Looking Up” is about taking the time, and having the courage to look beyond the norm.


Here are 4 thoughts to ponder.

  1. We don’t need no stinkin’ course! Or more precisely “Will the overall cost of this ‘event’ actually prevent, reinforce, or solve the issue at hand”? I’ll answer this one for you – most likely, no.  Let’s “Look Up” and see solutions in a different light.  Knowing, and more importantly accepting; that rarely, if ever, is a single training course the solution for anything.
  2. Sometimes jumping into the middle of the pool is required – ADDIE (SAM, Agile, etc) be damned, but will this actually prevent the “training” issue from happening again? Again, let me be helpful – it’s unlikely. Discovering the root cause of an issue is key.  “Look Up” from Subject Matter Experts, and start asking “why”. “5 Why’s” a day is a true rebel approach.
  3. A fair amount of “training” issues happen because a culture sustains it, how do you expect the issue to go away if the culture doesn’t change? Because it is compelling and relevant to you, doesn’t make it compelling and relevant to everyone else. Never under-estimate the power of culture.
  4. “Look Up” and beyond from your L&D job description – This is not who you are, this is not your defining purpose. Your purpose is Performance Support, providing accessible knowledge when people need to have it. When they need to use it. This is your purpose.

L&D isn’t, at its core, rocket science. We pretend it is, but it’s not. Yes, there is a lot of homework required, a lot of information to keep up with, information to actually read and then form enlightened opinions. What is difficult, is not accepting the current opinions of squeaky wheel “guru’s” as absolute.  “Looking Up” then becomes critical. Look up and see what else is around. Compare and contrast.

You don’t buy the first laptop you see during an Amazon search, do you? Of course not. So why accept the loudest voices as absolute? Look up.

“Looking Up” is about perspective, how you choose to view the life (and work) around you.  Psychologists have long discussed the concept of cognitive distortion specifically, negative bias ().  We can choose to “Look Up” and explore the positive view which surrounds all of us, or not. However, we all know the “Yeah, but…” person:

“That was a great game!” – “Yeah, but beer was $10.”

Some people can’t help themselves but this is our purpose: To not accept noise as truth, and not to accept negative filters or bias.

“Let’s pilot this collaborative space” – “Okay, but no one understand technology here” Sigh.

I encourage you to “Look Up” in 2015!

Look up1

I guarantee there will be a curious adult standing nearby who wants to play in your sandbox. Look Up (and get up) from the space around you and find them.  You’ll find the positive outweighs the negative, and once things start in positive motion there will be no stopping your momentum.

How will you incorporate “Looking Up” into your day-to-day? What changes are you going to make? Are you ahead of me? Share your story of discovery. 

Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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