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  • Margaret Burnside

Learning at work week?

Updated: May 15

Some of my best learning recently has been happening outside of work.

I'm talking real basic learning - helping my brain to relearn things it learnt many years ago but in a different way. I had a stroke at the end of February - a small stroke in the Pons region of my brain. Small blood vessels in this area of my brain are damaged forever.  

(2 minute neuroscience video on Pons region here, after the adverts)


The effect was paralysis to my right side arm, hand and leg and some speech issues. So I had to retrain my brain in that area to create new neural pathways in order to send the correct messages to my fingers, hand, arm and leg. It was tough - and weird! I remember attending a coaching conference where David Rock was the main speaker and he introduced me to the term ‘facilitators of neuroplasticity’ as a way of describing the work we do as coaches. The brain is a powerful organ!

There are two main types of neuroplasticity: 


  • Functional plasticityis the brain's ability to move functions from a damaged area of the brain to other undamaged areas;

  • Structural plasticity is the brain's ability to actually change its physical structure as a result of learning 


Like all learning it needed repetition, motivation and determination! I had a variety of learning resources - the physios were my coaches, I had paper handouts, online resources and some fascinating props! I had putty for strengthening my hand and finger movement, a wobble board for balance and a large, stretchy elastic band to build strength in my leg.  


It was such a great reminder of the very basic elements of learning and demonstrated the importance of my own motivation to learn as the crucial factor.

So, if we don’t address the WHY - the learning for a purpose - in the development opportunities we offer, can we ever achieve effective outcomes? 

Take care,


Shout out to @Alexandra Koch for a great AI image at


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