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Dear Friend,

Did you know we all have a learning cycle?

Let me describe my learning cycle when I first became a missionary, the summer of 1978.

It was the first hour of my first day ever in a Native community. After jumping off the floats of the plane and wading up to the sandy shore, was I ever excited! I lost no time to start walking around the community with my teammates to meet people and officially begin what’s called cross-cultural ministry.

After an hour of wandering around we arrived at the home of the Job Halfaday family. For the first ten minutes we sat on their sofa listening to four of Job’s daughters laughing uncontrollably in one of the back rooms.

Eventually Patty came out of the room and we were able to ask her what was so funny to her and her sisters. “Our community,” she told us between giggles, “has just started a one-watt radio station and everyone listens to the news all day. The radio said some people have just arrived from down south in a plane to have a Village Bible School next week. They are wandering around the community and one of them is reported to be a cowboy!

A cowboy!  In an Indian community! Thinking I was going to touch people’s lives with the gospel! So, I ask the reader, just what was I communicating wearing my cowboy hat?

It didn’t take me that long to figure it out. I decided it was the best course of action to stuff my cowboy hat in my suitcase and keep it there.  A cowboy in Indian territory! Maybe I was packing a six-shooter too.

In this situation I admit to living at Phase One of the learning cycle, that I was clueless and unaware! But I didn’t have to stay there. None of us do.

Dr. Howard Hendricks says we all start here at the unconscious incompetence level. Then as we discover we didn’t know something we move on to being aware of an incompetence - conscious incompetence. As we move on we actually learn the skills we didn’t know earlier - conscious competence. For me (with my cowboy hat) this was consciously asking myself what was appropriate attire for my next visit to this community. In time what I learned became a part of my life by being a habit - unconscious competence.

So . . . can you tell me what you don’t know? Hendricks suggests that the best learning throughout our lives always begins at Phase One and moves on from there.1

For the past thirty-plus years my life has reflected these four phases. I wish I could say I’ve never been stuck at one of the phases but that wouldn’t be real. My learning cycle remains quite slow much of the time. This is why I’ve put this catalogue together. I’m not an authority on any workshop listed in this catalogue. I’m a student of everything here. I’ve been a student of some of the issues in these pages for nearly fifty years.

What’s your learning cycle look like? How about the learning cycle of your church or organization or your specific ministry?

Is there something in my list of workshops that would help you be more effective at what you do? How can I help you? If you see something that interests you, send me an email or give me a call today.

Let me join you on your learning cycle!

Dan Woodard

1Hendricks, Howard. Teaching to Change Lives, Multnomah Books, 1989.