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Taking my own advice
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
DSC00401This morning after breakfast, I drove all of five minutes to Lake Anza in Tilden Park and hiked around the lake, up the creek, over the hill, and back down, about an hour all told. The air was crisp, the lake foggy, and my new camera was hungry for images to bring back home.

DSC00411Walking along the path, everything is in harmony. It feels like this place must have always been like this, but that is illusion. The little steam that meanders into the lake fed a spectacular waterfall sixty years ago. The eucalyptus trees, of which there are tens of thousands, were imported from Australia as a timber crop. Unfortunatley for the importer, these were soft-gum eucalytus, worthless for timber but beautiful to look at.

DSC00403Walking along, I let my mind wander wherever it choses. I reflect that I consider myself an above-average outdoorsman, even though I haven't been camping since I was 16 and have never trekked any real wilderness. I realized I was reliving my short but illustrious career as a Boy Scout.

I thought about the morning fog and where it comes from. Think of California as a giant hotdog. One side of the bun is the Sierra Nevada mountains, the other is the mountains along the Coast. The big steaming sausage in the middle is the Central Valley, which grows half of the nation's produce. In summer, the Valley gets really, really hot. The Sacrmento River Delta to the north is the only place the hot air can escape. In San Francisco Bay, the hot air from the Valley meets the cold air from the Pacific Ocean, and their merger creates the fog. I've lived here long enough to enjoy it.

DSC00410I huffed and puffed up a steep hill, trying to avoid the poison oak, for this was not a cleared trail. My book on Informal Learning hi-jacked my train of thought. Last week my friend Ted had told me I was too fuzzy in defining my reader. Was it a business manager or an individual learner? I had convinced myself I could write to both. I was wrong. I must focus. I'm writing for managers. I want to change the world, and managers are in the best position to help me do that.

DSC00417As I joined a well worn path, I flashed on a recurring thought that I haven't written about: the importance of being able to look over someone's shoulder as they work.

At Gnomedex, when Hobie Swan gave a demo of MindManager, a program I've relied on for years, seeing his every move on the big screen opened my eyes to things I hadn't realized in my private use of the tool. Jon Udell's screenshows accomplish the same thing. And standing in someone else's shoes by seeing what blogs they follow or the photos they've posted or the tags they hit, all this rounds out the picture of what's going on in their heads. It's looking over their virtual shoulders and into their virtual minds

DSC00431On the home stretch, I thought about the value of having other people's voices right in my text: learners, gurus, visiting firemen, whomever.

I drove home, took a shower, munched on grapes, checked a few blogs, and had a great telephone conversation with Steve Denning about the power of storytelling in organizational transformation. I can hardly wait for tomorrow's nature hit. It's soothing and it opens the mind to torrents of new thoughts.


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