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Ian O'Byrne

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant. - Max De Pree In TL;DR - subscribe at #leadership


Ian O'Byrne

Maybe stories are just data with a soul. - Brené Brown In issue 122 of TL;DR. Subscribe at #dreams

Ian O'Byrne

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle In issue of my newsletter. Subscribe at http #education


Ian O'Byrne

Examining your impressions

2 min read

On the third day of Stoic Week 2016, we were asked to develop a stoic approach by self-monitoring and focusing on mindfulness throughout the day. The handbook and daily prompts are available here.

The reflection of the day is from Epictetus, Handbook, 1.5:

Practise, then, from the very beginning to say to every rough impression, ‘You’re an impression and not at all what you appear to be.’ Then examine it and test it by the standards that you have, and first and foremost by this one, whether the impression relates to those things which are within our power or those which aren’t up to us; and if it relates to those things which aren’t within our power, be ready to reply, ‘That’s nothing to me’.

In this Epictetus is suggesting that we train ourselves to avoid being carried away in our own thoughts and feelings. Once again, we see this sentiment that something is "nothing to me."

To achieve this balance and avoid errors in our judgement, it is suggested that we "examine our imporessions." That is to say that we should examine and problematize our impressions, or thoughts, feelings, and sensations. In short, routinely problematize your perceptions about the world and your place in it.

To make this happen, it may help to employ some aspect of "cognitive distancing." In this psychological strategy you need to step back from your own reality, and examine your life and world from a distance.

We see this at times from great athletes or military figures that indicate that they can mentally step back from the field and see all of the pawns on the board and how they intersect. I believe this mental strategy may come with time, experience, and self-efficacy.

In this we have an opportunity to challenge negative patterns of thinking and the socially constructed narratives that we set for ourselves. By examining our impressions, we can regularly interrogate our own thinking and perspectives to ensure that we're experiencing reality.


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Ian O'Byrne

Life is not a problem waiting to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. - Soren Kierkegaard

Ian O'Byrne

We are what we think about all day long. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

2 min read

Our beliefs and narratives hld us back and in many ways imprison us from achieving what we'd like to accomplish during our lives.

From an early age we are indocritinated to this narrative about how we're supposed to act, about the value of hard work, and our role in society. We use this narrative as a form of belief system that includes conscious and unconscious information that impacts what we see as being "real." This narrative and belief system impacts our views about "truth" and perspectives on the world.

We filter our view of the world through these prisms and react to what may at times be misconceptions about the current milieu. Regardless of what the truth may be, we filter this truth, see what we want to see, and reject most everything else.

If we want to make a real change in our lives, we need to recognize these self and socially constructed narratives and question the root of our thinking. What are the narratives and belief systems that dictate our decisions? In what ways do these hold us back from living the way that we choose? How might we revise, or recreate these narratives to achieve self-actualization?

As we change what we see to what we want to see, we must start with changing ourselves. We need to question and understand our present state and reality. What is the current state in which we exist? What are our capabilities? 

Our present state is determined by education, environment, family connections, childhood experiences, successes, failures, and religious beliefs.

Within these contexts, everything that is happening to you in your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual present state is the result of what in going on in your mind. You can be what you want your mind frames it to be. 

What do you think about and bring into being?


Ian O'Byrne

January 26, 2016

2 min read

Are you on offense or defense?

In one of the podcasts over the past week the speaker asked the question about whether or not you're on offense or defense as you organize and schedule your goals.

I think in some sort of kung-fu philosophical way there is room in the discussion for identifying a need to remain focused on your own goals...and at the same time remain nimble, flexible, and in some aspects "defensive." 

But, I think the question is (at least to me) more about being in control and determining what your goals are, and how will your spend your time to achieve them. 

This reminds me of the Ikigai mentality that I wrote about previously here in the journaling session. The overall focus in your life, goals, work, etc. should be to figure out your reason for being...and work to make yourself...and those around you happy. 

In this context, I think there is a need to identify what will make you happy...and then making decisions, or having actionable steps to make that a reality. 

It runs counter to one of the statements that people often make...and I detest..."it is what it is." 

I think we can make decisions, direct our lives, work intentionally, and on the offense...and identify best steps to reach our goals.

Ian O'Byrne

January 8, 2016

2 min read

Spent time this morning talk with the tech director at Jax's school.

In the discussion we chatted about bringing the LED make that we conducted in his classroom before the holidays to the other Kindergarten classes. We also spent some time talking through working in Jax's class to put together a stop-motion film about a story they're reading in class. Finally, we discussed having one of the 5th grade teachers get involved in the upcoming iteration of the project.

In this discussion I had a reality check of the types of texts and tasks we were asking people to complete and the challenges people might have in even understanding them. 

As we develop tasks like in the Project, we're in our own little echo chamber and how the work we share out with people might be a bit too complex. 

In some of the Learning Events that we shared out last year we would have participants read two poems, respond, and then discuss how they related to the text. The two poems were written for a middle school, or perhaps high school reader. Ignoring the possible challenge of the use of digital tools...our use of texts to act as prompts seemed to stop the teachers I was working with in their tracks.

To address this, I think we need to do a couple things:

  • Have a "directive" at the top of each Learning Event. A basic sentence of "do this" and "don't do this."
  • Have levels of texts selections. Have a sample for elementary and one for secondary.
  • Continue to fine-tune, distill, and whittle down each Learning Event.

Ian O'Byrne

January 4th, 2016

2 min read

Back to work today. I don't teach classes until thursday. Working on cleaning up "to-do" list and using Trello for long term (quarterly) goals. Will work on the website a bit today.

In thinking about goal setting, one of the things that popped up on my radar this morning from Eylan Ezekiel was a link and schematic about Ikigai and the Japanese concept around a "reason for being." He mentioned these concepts as he's been reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

As I detail goals, I'm not having trouble with day to day goals. As an educator, there is some rhythm to my daily week. I have three classes this semester and will have the steady stream of classes, grading, emails, etc. I'll also have several research projects starting up this semester. Publications will also happen...even as I knocked out several over the last semester.

The challenge I'm having is as I'm deep in thought about what longer term goals should be in my life. I don't think that tenure should be the one and only goal in my life. I've gone through too much in the last year or so (and academia has it's own issues with tenure systems lately). I also think that there should be larger goals that I strive for. 

I'm moving to a quarterly system of identifying and achiving goals. I want to be able to identify a goal, and identify what I'll do over the next week or two to work toward that goal to make it a reality. 

The one stumbling block I've had over the last week or so is a nagging doubt about the "what you can be paid for" and "what the world needs" questions up top. I want to build up online pay content on a new site. I know that I can be paid for it...I have in the past...and continue to be. I also know the world needs it. I'm just wondering about putting it up online to support learners.

We'll see how it shakes out. :)