Keep on Exploring
9 November 2015 - Impact Hub Berlin

Guest Post by Impact Hub Member Ursel Biester, who is launching her new book at our space on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Check out the event here and hear an interview we did with her on our new podcast ‘Impact Matters.’ 

I have always been fascinated about journeys. It was probably when I lived in Chile for half a year when I was 16 years old that I discovered this passion. What I discovered later in my life though, is that journeys can happen in many shapes. Metaphorically speaking, even our whole life is a learning journey.

We can take a real physical journey, travel to a far away place, and discover something new. Or we can stay at home, and dedicate a fixed amount of time, say, one week, to evaluate a specific topic. Any frame we choose, the purpose is to focus our mind on a question or a longing that we want to discover, and once we have set our aim, we let go. We open our eyes and let the aim pull us towards it.

Possible frameworks

When I talk about learning journeys, I always take that as the basic outline. Set an intention, create a framework, and then let go and trust the process.The most relevant framework for a learning journey in my work is within organizations, educational institutions, or companies. For self-directed learning journeys I create a template, often a book with guiding questions that the traveller can use by him/herself. If it is a learning journey for a group, I create a learning environment and become a facilitator.

When going on a journey, learning has no longer the meaning of transmission of knowledge from one head to another, but rather the active search and exploration of a topic, driven by curiosity and intrinsic motivation. As such, it becomes a personally satisfying and engaging activity.

Common associations

Being a member at Impact Hub, a worldwide co-working space for social entrepreneurs, I asked random strangers  to give me associations with „learning journey“ and they replied: self-discovery, ongoing learning, steep learning curve and extended amount of time. I can only agree: the learning comes in its own time, whenever we are ready to process it. It may lie dormant for some time, and suddenly take a huge leap. The times of relaxation and doing nothing are as much part of the process as the times with input.

An individual coaching process can also be a learning journey. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. It requires an intention or goal of the coachee and then he/she will go towards that goal with the support of the coach. The way will unfold, supported by various tools and methods, as long as we keep walking. To stay within the metaphor: you start the travels at your home, you set your direction towards Mexico, and get going. On the way you will use various vehicles: boat, car airplane and sometimes even foot. A learning journey is no different, it is up to you to decide which means will guide you through this process.

If you google “learning journey” the first hit delivers a strategy consultancy. That makes so much sense! When I facilitate workshops in companies, we also go on a journey together. We start with an idea, an intention to explore and develop the best possible future of the company. We aim for that, and then we let go. We dive into a creative process, exploring concrete potentials, discover new ideas, involve as many perspectives as possible, until something new emerges. We pin it down, we make it concrete. It is a process of transformation.

Another association with a learning journey is a pilgrimage. We leave our home with a longing for spiritual growth. We set out into the unknown, pulled forward by the holy grail or whatever it is we want to find at the end of our journey.

The trigger of a learning journey is the same: we feel a vacuum inside us, a yearning, a longing, and we set out to fill the empty spot.

It happens when we have a blind spot in our mind, something we don´t know, and we gain knowledge and understanding, to color this blind spot.

Where do you feel your blind spot?

My favorite topics for learning journeys are leadership, social entrepreneurship and sustainability. We are living in times of huge social shifts, the future is very open and what we fix our eyes on intentionally, is where we will end up. So I suggest to fix them very firmly on hunger-relieve, people-empowerment and environmental-repair!

If you want my advice on the key factor to a successful learning journey, it would be this one:never stop trusting that you will get there. Keep the eyes half open very firmly hooked onto your intention and trust that everything you come across is a milestone. What happens on the way, that is the learning.