Learning from White Belts

practice-bp-7-ward-batting.jpgI just completed the process of leading another NewHabits program in the Caribbean – this time in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

I learned a great deal from the experience.

It confirmed my observation that most people entering the program in the Caribbean do so at the White Belt level. Some are pure White Belts, practicing at that level in each of the 11 components.

Others have a mix of different belts, but at least one area in which they are White belts. That single area drags their time management
systems down to the lowest belt level. Ouch.

What is challenging, however, is that as White belts, there is some difficulty in dealing with the time demands that the program places
on them.

Even though one of the key principles is that habits must be learned at a rate of one or two at a time, the volume of items that must be done in order to implement these habits can easily overwhelm a White belt. At the moment, the way the course is designed is that the last learning activity has to do with habit changes, and it introduces a flurry of time demands to change and learn a habit. by that point, the average participant is tired, and can’t handle the sudden flood effectively.

Arguably, it is the toughest part of the course for a White belt as time demands fly, and old feelings of inadequacy resurface.

What I like about this fact is that it offers a great way to demonstrate what the course is teaching.

I am going to change the design of the course somewhat, and introduce a new meta-conversation that focuses on building their participants’ skill at dealing with the time demands that are created by the Newhabits program itself. I plan to take some “breaks” in the course throughout the two days, and allow people a chance to reflect on how they are using the principles they are learning to manage the time demands being created from the materials.

I also plan for them to practice scheduling, by using the lunch period as a real life example.

In this way, attendees will be able to get their hands dirty using the techniques they are learning, and be able to get coached and to
compare notes with each other.

The end result will be that they will have a real-life chance to practice and also be able to deal more effectively with the steps
to implement their new system.

This partially fulfills a dream I have had of giving participants something real to practice with, like a pick-up game in basketball
where the stakes are not so high, but real skills are being used. I had played with the idea of engineering a simulation, but I couldn’t come up with a way to challenge everyone in the class, given their different skill levels.

This seems to be one way to get the best of both worlds — some actual practice on some real problems, while giving each person a chance to use the new habits they are about the implement in their lives.