During our session on Reboot 9, we started out with laying out the basic model.
This model consists of six ‘core nodes’ of factors that play a role in owning your learning path. (as shown in the illustration below)

For each of those six nodes we put up a sheet of paper to collect post-it notes on.
For the first part of the session it was interesting to see that most of the discussion and the captured thoughts and observations ended up on the ‘Having a Supportive Environment’ sheet. We were listing barriers in our environment basically, talking about the education system, the organisation we work in etc.
Only when George Por made a very useful intervention by asking us all to stop playing the blame game, post-its appeared in larger numbers on the other sheets.
This pattern strikes me as very relevant.

Especially as I see it happen time and again in other settings as well, particularly in discussions around (organizational) goal setting.
On the one end of the spectrum you have the archetypical argument that ‘we are/I am too small to change the system’. On the other end of the spectrum you find the archtypical argument that ‘I/we could change this, if only all other stakeholders would accept our/my authority’. Both are a fig leaf for inaction. They are based on the notion that you need control to be able to reach your goals.

What these arguments do is ignore the large space in the middle of the spectrum: your area of influence. In this area you don’t have control (at least not all the time, over all the relevant issues, and in all contexts), but you have influence (and control during short bursts of time over some issues in some contexts).

So instead of magnifying our problems/goals to the extend they become too big for us, or stating total control over our peers/stakeholders as a prerequisite for our ability to act, we need to focus on what steps can be taking now, in collaboration with willing others, or regardless of others. Without doing away with far reaching goals, high ambitions, or lofty values. (In essence this is what systems like GTD are doing for you as well)

In this area of influence we can feel in control enough to get moving, and take uncertainty about the results as a given at the same time. Our area of influence is where we can achieve flow, where we can make small steps towards a larger outcome.
In terms of owning your learning path this means that you don’t have to wait for the educational system to change, or for organizations to start behaving differently. You can own your learning path, within the educational system, and within traditional organizations. As long as you don’t let ‘them’ unilaterally set your goals.

I’ve taught a horse to ride a bicycle (street art in Enschede, April ’07)