“Give me a lever and a place to stand I will move the whole world.” Achimedes once put. Here we come to the same question: to realize self-development, what are our lever and where should we place ourselves?

Before I open my eyes in the morning, I’ve already opened my Wechat account.

A series of posts have already piled up waiting for my check. They are journals, finance catch-ups, industrials analysis, reading clubs, and even how to be a charming lady… But one common feature to be worth mentioning is the ubiquitous “chicken soup for the soul”. Each morning, when I spend most of the precious and important time in toilet, I would check most of the public accounts, go through the texts, share some great articles with families and friends and comment on them. I call it the “time of pride” just because the pieced time of “checking and examining” grants me the impression that I’m the emperor sitting in the Forbidden City, busy in reading over, giving remarks and granting me the impression of handling the grand ship of a dynasty.

And what for sure is, believe it or not, I contribute only limited efforts to the emergence of such a phenomenon like a drop in the sea, since the sea should be composed with innumerable drops of water to be called “sea”, at least shown in numbers: the 700 million active Wechat users. Increasingly and especially, we have started to go after success theories or stories, dreaming to be experts and celebrities overnight or via shortcuts.

 

But the truth is, as far as I observed, a large pool of young generation is anxious about being outstanding, making self-branding, becoming an interesting and charming communicator and leading a different and successful life.

At the age of digital boom, individual or organization, whoever masters the know-how to do digital branding and marketing skills can stand out in the ocean of the competition: to be known is to be noticed; to be noticed is to be make your voice heard; and at the heart of the chain of questions, that is, self-development; and at the core of the problem-solving to realize self-development, learning is one of the essential keys to lead “you” and “me”.

To be straightforward, if we agree that my practice early in the morning is the miniature of the young generation, the pubic accounts’ common feature in Wechat is a miniature of the “shared anxiety” among all of us.

It is a double-edged sword since we have already realized the necessity of self-improvement and the importance of learning although we are not sure enough if we march ahead on the appropriate direction. This raises the discussion of the following issues:

  • What is self-development or knowledge management?
  • Why do we need to achieve it?
  • What does “Mergers and Acquisitions of ideas” refer to? The underlying implication extends to “how” to close the original question mark—“self-development”.

 

Self-development, a word connected with the obsessed word of “learning” or “knowledge management”, refers largely to the upgrading learning curve in either professional or personal life. Externally, the changing environment along with the “metabolism” of information and knowledge requests us to have the capacity to learn rapidly in a new domain. Otherwise, it is unlikely to remain competitive and less capable to meet the challenging demands and we are inclined to sacrifice the advent of new opportunities.

Against this backdrop, we stand on tiptoe to stretch upward and spare no efforts to grab the rope in the well, hoping to jump out of the status quo. That rope is “learning” by default. Meanwhile, the more we realize there are some people who are even more brilliant than us but work harder and do not stop perfecting, the more stressed we will become. Gradually, we start to take good advantage of our pieced time to grasp each tiny inch of information and be armed with knowledge in order to feel safe. However, sometimes things are likely to go out of control since we strive to seek out a shortcut of success. We believe that the rope extending to us based on others’ experiences and knowledge in 1000 words can be applied to us perfectly.

However, problems can pop out of the practice. It can be interpreted from some perspectives:

First of all, our learning curve is not developed systematically but in a chaotic way with information from all walks of way and all sources of dissemination media. In a messy melting-pot, it is undeniable that the most diligent can gather a large pool of knowledge like a data base. But the limit is exposed as we are getting lost in organizing the dots of information, not to mention creating output and applying them appropriately. If the knowledge in the mind cannot be absorbed and recreated, it does not belong to ours in reality.

If the enrichment of knowledge is the input navigation and channel, then the leverage of knowledge is another phase in the knowledge construction chain.

Therefore, in the second place, another problem of knowledge management is an equally important concern. Generally speaking, there is an acknowledged phenomenon among the young generation, that is, the lower correlation between education progression and professional and/or personal capabilities. It is not a hundred percentage sure game that the higher we climb up in the ivory tower, the higher probability we can achieve in EQ or IQ, and we are hardly to confirm that we are competent enough to do efficient communication and dealing with even basic staff, resulting in an embarrassed situation.

Thus, having absorbed some insights from a Chinese author Gu Dian, I think it would be interesting to share my understanding and try to figure out some potential solutions. As the Mr. Gu proposes, we have three principle manners to improve our knowledge management to realize fulfilment more efficiently. And I summarize these into a value chain as follows:

First level, knowledge stimulation is the upstream of lead management. As Mr. Gu puts, our original motivation to learn should not start from anxiety, but from questions. To put in another way, it signifies that we are pushed by question mark to open an issue and then discover that in a range of questions. That question chain would contribute to the exploration of a new field and finally lead us to a more profound level of knowledge discovery and insights.

Second level, to extend our sources of learning is the midstream to enlarge the filter’s opening. For example, knowledge gathering refers not only literally to books, published paperbacks, and etc. but also to people (friends, experts…), internet and among others. The principle here comes to the observation, gathering, and processing of information. We should have the awareness to build up our analysis based on facts and data and have the consciousness to distinguish objective and subjective statements and insights, since accepting without critiquing is another unfavorable cramming method of self-teaching and learning.

Importantly, another good practice I reflected from this proposal is to build connection. We might not notice the negative implication of a disconnected knowledge management system. However, scattered knowledge organized in a messy base lowers the application and re-usage efficiency. What’s worse, we will miss many chances of creating synergies of different knowledge units. The idea of mergers and acquisitions of ideas came out of mind from the finance domain. In a professional world, we primarily develop our business and achieve growth from two sources: organic growth and external growth. Organic growth is based on the internal optimization of corporate organization, products, services, management and etc., whereas the external growth is normally established from mergers and acquisitions from horizontal and/or vertical axe(s). The M&A notion applied in knowledge management can work similarly. And the business growth realized in M&A is what we call “synergy”.

In this case, we’d better create synergies for our learning progression. As mentioned above, building connection is the key. Connection means different knowledge itself, and can be extended to the sources of knowledge, the diverse domains, and the innovative perspectives of judgement and interpretations…

Third level, practicing, thinking and sharing are the downstream in the value creation chain. As far as I learned based on Action Learning Theories and Mr. Gu’s idea, it is a good practice if we can distribute our time and efforts based on “7-2-1” principle. 10% is to construct the basis for learning and information gathering; 70% for practice and exercises, and 20% for communication and discussion with others, creating an outlet of reproduction.

Eventually, bearing these notions and principles to guide actions and learning cannot guarantee everything. Only a trial and error practice and an adjusted action roadmap can be constructive to the fulfillment of self-development. And searching our pathways to lead M&A synergies of ideas takes efforts in strategizing our time distribution and making a systemized and profound learning process.

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