The following are examples of The Education Network's distinctions. When people generate conversations based on these distinctions, they transform complaints into committed action, form and maintain extended partnerships, and generate a focus which inspires extraordinary action over the long term.

On the Court/In the Stands –
When one is ’on the court,’ they are involved, engaged, actively participating in the teaching, learning, planning, or playing that is happening. When one is ‘in the stands,’ they are observing, evaluating, judging themselves and others, removed from the action. From the stands, what one thinks about what is happening on the court has very little to no effect on the court. On the court, there is no talent, skill or ability – those are the evaluation from the stands. On the court there is action, action, action – nothing else matters.

One’s effectiveness on the court depends on one’s ability to act and the relevance and potency of those actions. People only act on what they perceive, on what they see. What is seen is a matter of distinction. The more distinction one has in a particular area or field, the more specific, refined, and effective are one’s actions. Distinguishing is the act of creating distinction, often characterized by the question, “What is really happening here?”

Automatic Listening For
People often think of themselves as open to hear what others have to say, discover who they are and what they have to offer. When examined, there is hardly any situation that is not approached with an ‘automatic listening for’ – a set of unexamined assumptions that serve as a filter for every experience. Automatic listenings limit our experience, narrow our perspective and prevent us from seeing anything which doesn’t fit with the point of view we already possess. By being responsible for ones automatic listening for, unforeseen possibilities occur in relationships and situations.

Listening For –
Our listening is like a register for reality that exists in the form of questions constantly being asked and answered. For example, a common listening is “Do they like me?” or “Do they think I am smart?” Everything that happens is interpreted in relation to the listening or question one has. After one recognizes one’s automatic listening for, it is possible to consciously design what one is ‘listening for.’ You will always get what you are listening for.

Integrity –
Integrity is distinguished as ‘having your actions being given by what you say.’ This is contrasted with sincerity, in which ‘you mean what you say when you say it, but your actions are given by something other than what you say, e.g., your feelings, moods opinions, etc.’ By acting with integrity, one establishes oneself as a force to be reckoned with, rather than well-meaning but only full of ‘hot air.’

Accountability can be associated with blame, credit, burden, or consequences. Or it can be the opportunity to be the author of one’s responsibilities, versus being at the effect of what is imposed on one by virtue of job description or external authority. Accountability is the opportunity to carve out the future rather than sit back and have it happen to you.

The outcome of any endeavor is not only the result, but also everything which is left for the future as a by-product of attempting to produce a result. Accomplishment is a new foundation established out of the process of producing results. Accomplishments include: new skills and abilities; new knowledge; new relationships or new possibilities in old relationships; new opportunities; and, new horizons. By distinguishing and acknowledging the accomplishment of a project along the way, the energy and inspiration for the project can be maintained, even when the results are not as expected. In education, the distinguishing of accomplishment regularly supports students and staff alike in staying focused and motivated for their own success.

Breakdown Technology
When something happens that thwarts our intentions, we automatically ask a question like “What’s wrong with me, with them, or with the situation?” This approach results in understanding the problem or failure, and we are either left stopped or shift our focus to handling the explanation, not resolving the problem. The ‘breakdown technology’ moves the conversation from a state of “what’s wrong?” to a state of “what’s missing, like a possibility?” This context provides the opportunity to restore the original intention and opens up a wider range of options to resolve the issue. People have the ability to use problems and setbacks to produce results. This technology leaves people unstoppable in the face of any obstacle.

Partnerships are not limited to the people with whom we share the same point of view or opinions, those we like or agree with, or even those with whom we already have the opportunity to work. Partnerships can be created based on having a ‘shared future.’ Partnerships can be created by listening for the shared future of your commitments and those of another.

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