I’ve been studying the way people learn and lead for a while now and it’s taught me quite a bit about how we integrate information. Or don’t. I speak with my mentorship clients often about the importance of understanding how we learn. I like to use the example of the Tortoise and the Hare (you can listen to an entire JOY episode about it here). Truth be told that fable is bullshit and both win the race. They just run in different ways. For some, slow and steady is a death sentence. For others feeling the pressure and stress from an impending deadline is paralyzing. Both answers are right. The key is understanding which style works best for you and then organizing around it. The same is true for how we grow and change. All answers are right. Except of course the choice to not change at all. Ew.
I’ve noticed after working with people in the process of change - or fighting change - that yes, there are many different paths. But generally, when it comes to learning something new whether it be a skill or a behavior, most of us fall into one of two groups - The All In or the Buildable Foundation (yeah it totally sounds like a makeup metaphor and it’s kind of the same principle). And depending upon the nature of the task or skill, we can switch between the two. We are not fixed. Thank goodness.
The All In approach looks like jumping right in. Learning by doing in the most enthusiastic, aggressive, and all encompassing way. It’s being thrown in the shark tank, pushed off the ledge, a real sink or swim kind of style. And it’s effective. If you are thrown in shark infested waters, you’ll learn how to swim real fast. Generally what I’ve observed with this style is that there is a big push ahead, usually before one is truly ready and then a good deal of course correction.
I’ll use skateboarding because it illustrates this so beautifully. Let’s take dropping in. Dropping in is a much sought after skill in skateboarding. It’s how you enter into a bowl and go down a vert. When you watch skateboarding, the movement an athlete embodies where they stand at the ledge of a pool, bowl or a vert, teeter on their board and fall forward down the vertical - that’s dropping in. Dropping in is terrifying to learn. And for this reason it is one of those skills that separates those who can converse with their fear and those who cannot. Simply put, when my kid wants to put a little distance between herself and the boys demonstrating their value in front of her at the skatepark, she drops in. It’s both hilarious and fascinating to see how the boys have less to demonstrate after that. Dropping in reclaims her space.
An All In style of learning to drop in is just doing it and hoping for the best. Any skilled coach can help assess those who are ready to try it and those who are not. Regardless, there are some skaters who just need to feel what it is like - fail - most likely but not necessarily - and then course correct and learn what went right, what went wrong and how to either do it again, or get better next time. They jump and then learn to fly on the way down. And this is effective for some. People struggle, fall , fail or nail it and then learn the how and why. And there is something to be said for understanding what the action feels like from the onset. And then organizing around that. Like I said, both styles are the right answer.
A Buildable Foundation approach is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. An organized and measured pace and path of small incremental improvements. A little bit at a time. Breaking the task or skill down into smaller bites, each one supporting the next. In skateboarding this would look like going down ramps of different sizes from very small to larger. Getting comfortable with more and more speed over time and really understanding how to lean forward but not too much and keep your shoulder back while on a decline. Again, this answer is also right.
What I’ve been surprised to find is that both styles take about the same amount of time to integrate. If there is a finish line in this fable, both styles cross at around the same time. The All In style spends time course correcting and then understanding the mechanics after the fact. The Buildable Foundation takes the time upfront and then puts it into action after mastering a series of smaller skills.
The important piece to point out about both styles is that they require a different approach in terms of instruction or leadership. The All In style requires a leader who is going to reverse engineer. Circle back and help course correct after the big impact. Often this can look like slowing things down after an explosive and exciting start. Leadership in this style needs to kind of pump the breaks. Honor the speed and enthusiasm while helping to guide and inform the how and why.
The Buildable Foundation style needs a push. Encouragement to take the next step. Go a little further, faster or bolder than is comfortable. Just a little. Help build confidence in mind and body. This type of leadership requires adding fuel to the fire instead of gently corralling the flames.
What a Buildable Foundation style looks like:
Sundays are for skateboarding in our house. Well most days are for that, but Sundays are special. That’s when we meet up with our group - a collective of about 8 adults between the ages of 36 and 50, and also, my daughter who is nearly 12. Every Sunday morning we meet up to skate together, cheer each other on and help problem solve. I was surprised to learn that skateboarding involves a lot of problem solving. There is a lot of stepping back, discussing and course correcting. This is fun and also really gentle and lovely to do in a supportive and enthusiastic group. We all see something different and in skateboarding you never really know what tip is going to help. Remember how Beyonce made the difference for me a few weeks back?
One of our friends, I’ll call him Justin, is incredible. He can do many things on a skateboard, but his passion is street. He loves anything that involves board control, curbs and flipping the board while he is in the air. He is a Buildable Foundation type of guy and I think recognizes that style in me when it comes to skateboarding. And because of this, he pushes me.
On Sunday I was working on my ticktak and kickturn and playing around with skating up a small ramp and turning while on the ramp. This turn requires a kickturn while moving, which is new for me. But I had slowly built up to it over the last weeks. Justin was watching me and said, “you need a chalk line. How high do you think you can get?” Before I could answer, he reached over the edge of the park and grabbed a large rock. He pressed the rock into the concrete and drew line a toward the top of the ramp. “I think you can get this high,” he said.
At the same time three other friends came over for a water break. We all joked that I needed a larger audience to try this out. I was a little unsure, but I understood where Justin was coming from. I did need a sightline in order to understand exactly what I was doing. I positioned my skateboard and went for it. And I blew right through the siteline. A small roar erupted from the group. It felt good. Justin walked over to the line and drew one about 8 inches above it. “This is how high you went. Nearly to the top. Punk rock. You’ll be ready for that ramp over there next week.” That was just the push I needed. And at exactly the right time. Justin fanned my flame. That small well measured push was the confidence I needed to begin my next series of incremental changes.
I am always amazed at just how little we understand about how we best learn and grow. School is disappointing in that way. We spend an awful lot of time there to walk away without deeply understanding how we as individuals integrate concepts. And I’ll admit, I spend a good amount of time guiding my mentorship clients to discover how they learn and integrate because even as the incredibly brilliant and powerful women they are, no one highlighted that this understanding was important. Human Design often helps with this learning style discovery, so too does the work I do with clients around values. But it is slow and does require a quiet listening and gathering, observation and perspective. And I do think this is a kind of love. It is a kind of love we can offer as leaders, teachers, bosses, parents and friends. Whether it is corralling the flames of the All In or pouring a little lighter fluid on the Buildable Foundation illuminating this understanding can feel like freedom.
Send me your questions. I love them so.
We mixed it up a little and this week I posted a poll in my IG stories. How HD can help guide your business was a clear front runner. It's super fun for me to think about. I'm happy to share my thoughts below.
Let's dive in!
There are about a million philosophies out there about how Human Design can help guide your business. Probably the most straight forward one, getting a separate reading or chart for your business is also the simplest. but it is the one that doesn't resonate with me. Part of the beauty of Human Design is that it reminds us that we are an entire vessel. Work, love, life, parenthood, hobbies, passions, talents, they all are informed by each other and fill up a singular vessel that is us. We serve the collective and others via the overflow from this vessel. Reminiscent of the put on your mask first on an airplane. Supporting your business as a separate chart kind of defeats the purpose of this lovely holistic reminder. What I offer my Business Mentorship clients and HD clients instead is a more complex yet illuminating approach.
I pull together what I think are the most interesting pieces of your chart to provide information on how to best support your business and help to co-create sets of actionable and targeted experiments to see what best resonates with you and your audience. I think a lot can be learned from taking a look at your Conscious Sun as your brand heart and soul and getting specific about your messaging via your Conscious Mercury. Your North Node and Mars are informative too! The planets have a lot to share about how we can best connect with others and find those who share our fractal line - or respond to our energy and share our values.
Often in energy, opposites attract. Looking at your defined and undefined centers can help inform where and how to sell in a way that is not only from a place of ease and authenticity for you, but that will also really resonate with those who are attracted to you. The centers where you are defined will attract those who are undefined there. We seek out what we do not have as a way to bridge our energy, and become whole through connection. How gorgeous is that? This attraction comes up a lot in looking at Gates. If you are one of my clients, you know that it is often that your partner or members of your family or close knit work group will possess a gate that creates a full and vibrant channel. Like finding the other sock to a pair.
I find this opposites attract energy in my own client roster. I was surprised to find that about 95% of my clients have a defined ego center. I do not. I was just interviewed yesterday by someone who I really connected with and we both laughed when she shared her ego definition. It is really lovely how we so naturally are here to help each other just by being ourselves.
There is much to be found in your design that can help support your business, but it is a big job and to be honest, one that I believe really deserves guidance. If you want to dive in and start on your own, I recommend getting crystal clear on your Design Type, Strategy, Authority, Signature, and Not-Self. All things filter through these, even if your channels align with different energy types - it gets complicated pretty fast! Getting clear on what your Authority FEELS like and how you can trust it to guide your business decisions is an important practice. It can be hard to trust when money is involved but at its core, Human Design is really about supporting us in creating boundaries and honoring what we lend our precious energy toward.
This is a really dense topic, so email me with your questions. LISANADERSONSHAFFER@GMAIL.COM
Happy to shed more light on it!
I'm adding a few new features to the newsletter over the next weeks. As I thought about what I wanted to include, music kept rising to the top of the list. Music is really important to me. We listen to it all day in our house, Sometimes together, sometimes separately each of us wearing headphones as we work away. I was reminded by a good friend this week that music can indeed be medicine and some of the most profound body responses I've experienced have been to music. So as I work with both clients and myself to be more of the body, music seems important to share here.
When a song speaks to me, it isn't always for the same reason. Sometimes the lyrics stand out, other times the melody. When the two meet and resonate together, it's pretty damn magical. This week's song is one of those. I have shared some of the lyrics below because they are just so fucking beautiful. You can listen on Spotify by hitting the LISTEN button. I hope you discover something new here to share or revisit something beautiful.
THE PERFECT SPACE
The Avett Brothers
I wanna have friends that I can trust
That love me for the man I've become, not the man I was
And I wanna have friends that'll let me be
All alone when being alone is all that I need
I wanna fit in to the perfect space
Feel natural and safe in a volatile place
And I wanna grow old without the pain
Give my body back to the earth and not complain