Tag Archives: Teaching

Years of Experience

knowledge-vs-experience

“I’ve been with this company for 35 years.”

“I’ve been in this industry since it started.”

“I remember when we used typewriters to fill out those forms.”

“I’ve forgotten more about this, than that new guy will ever know.”

“I’m not sure how things are supposed to work.  I just started a couple of years ago.”

“I hope they give me a raise soon.  I’m the only person who knows how to process all the claim types.”

“There’s no way someone will ever figure out how to replace me.  I wouldn’t even remember all the steps if I had to tell someone.  It’s automatic for me.”

Experience counts.  There’s no replacement for the lessons learned by doing, succeeding, failing, recovering, making it up as you go, reinventing, punting, switching directions, and trying again.

There’s no shortcut to learning how a business or industry ebbs and flows throughout a year, or through the ups and downs of the economic cycle.  A business that’s a no-brainer during the up-cycle can, and will, turn into a nightmare in a down-cycle.  A person who can lead a business through an entire up and down cycle can’t help but learn all the ins and outs of that business (and its industry).

But, what’s the true value of all that experience?  Nope, that’s not it…

The real value comes when you teach and mentor others.  It’s relatively easy to master something for yourself.  The real challenge, and deepest learning, is in teaching others.  Not just the raw facts and steps to something, but connecting and passing on the passion that you have and watching your “student” define their own passion about the topic.

Consider your years of experience doing something.  Maybe you’ve been in a particular job for twenty years.  Can you honestly say that you’ve had twenty real years of experience, or twenty one-year experiences?

What’s the difference?

The difference is whether you’ve merely stacked the same one-year experiences on top of one another, or built and connected a compounding level of expertise in your twenty years.  It means looking back at the (hopefully) countless people you’ve helped along the way to become the best versions of themselves.  It means that you’ve found ways to multiply yourself and your impact by working with, and teaching, others.

The school of hard knocks never issues a diploma, but it does yield a lifetime of experience.  That experience only counts if you take the time to pass it on to someone else.

 

 

Image Credit

Will This Be On The Test?!?!

SanFelipeSunrise

I’m told that this is one of the top questions students (and parents) ask of teachers.

Test questions in school come in many standard forms:  true or false, multiple choice, essay…just to name a few.  Oh yeah, and word problems!  Decipher the riddle, find all the numbers that fit into formulas, and arrive at an answer (hopefully, the correct one).  And, of course, remember to show your work.

We’re taught in school that there is only one correct answer to most questions.  Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, not 1493.  It takes two hydrogens and one oxygen to make water, not two oxygens and one hydrogen.  The student’s job is to learn (memorize?) the correct answers and then “ace” their test by answering all of the questions correctly.

It’s no wonder students ask what will be on their tests.  After all, their grade is in play.  Who wouldn’t want to know what they should study, and what they can ignore?  So much is riding on the outcome.

Tests outside of school aren’t as easy.  The questions don’t come from our teachers.  Variables are often missing, and formulas rarely provide one definitive answer.  They aren’t always fair.  They don’t come with a study guide.  There’s no advice about what should be studied, or ignored.  Real life tests come from our family, friends, customers, co-workers, managers, elected officials, our children’s teachers, strangers, and ourselves…on a daily basis.  A lot more than a grade is in play with most of these tests.

Attention to detail, listening to what is said and unsaid, curiosity, creativity, openness to risk, connecting with others we trust, and a clear sense of right and wrong are the guides we have in answering the real life test questions we face.

What’ll be on your next test?  Everything you’ve experienced in life up to this point, and probably a few things you haven’t seen before.  Here’s hoping you studied well.

 

Test Question:  What’s the connection between this post and the sunrise photo?

Wanna Learn Something? Think Like a Teacher!

You’re sitting in a training class.  The instructor is describing some new set of management concepts or the latest system enhancements.  You try to listen and stay focused.  Your mind wanders a bit.  You force it back in line.  After all, there may be something useful here that you can apply to your work.

Later, someone asks you how the class went.  You shrug your shoulders, reporting that you learned a couple of new things.  You then have trouble describing what you’ve learned.  Not an inspiring endorsement.

Imagine the same training class.  But, now you’re there to learn the material well enough to present the same class to another group next week.

You don’t get to pick and choose what applies to your work.  You need to learn the subject in its entirety.  Preparing to teach a subject requires active learning.  You’ll watch how the material is presented, the visual aids and examples the presenter uses, and the way the presenter moves around the room.  Nothing less than full mastery of the information will suffice.  Anything less could lead to failure when it’s your turn to teach.

Do yourself a favor.  Prepare like a teacher, learn like a teacher, and think like a teacher.  The truth is, you will be teaching this class next week…to yourself, as you try to remember and apply what you learned in the class.

Top 9 Things New Parents Need to Remember

My daughter and son-in-law just had their first baby.  His name is James, and he’s one week old.

Inspired by our new grandson, I thought I’d give some advice about parenting.  Trust me when I say that I’m no expert.  Then again, I don’t think anyone is truly an expert in this, the oldest of callings.  With that in mind, here’s my Top 9:

1.  No child is perfect.  Precious, yes.  The center of your universe, yes.  Perfect, no.  They will make mistakes, just like you.  They will have difficult challenges (real and imagined) in their life, just like you.  They will need someone to support them in good times and bad, just like you.  They will occasionally need someone to point them in a new direction, just like you.

2.  Children learn what you teach them.  This sounds obvious, but I think some parents forget this truism.  You should always have an eye on what you are teaching through your words and actions.  Everything you do, say, and value, are always on display for your kids.  The way you handle challenges, approach new ideas, enjoy your day, place value on accomplishment, and take the time (or not) to notice the small pleasures in life, are all teaching your child how to approach life.  Kids have a voracious thirst for new knowledge.  Have fun helping them chase down new things to learn.

3.  Enjoy sharing the things you do with your child.  If you’re doing yard work, get your child involved, even if it’s only to hold the bag while you dump leaves into it.  Building the latest piece of your Ikea collection?  Get them in there with you.  Their “help” may double the amount of time the project takes, but your child will learn what it’s like to work on projects and see them through to completion.  Are you thinking about flying a kite?  Don’t just show them the flying part.  Get them involved in picking out the kite, assembling it, and figuring out which way to point it into the wind.

4.  Child development is similar to sculpting clay.  When clay is new, it’s pliable, easily shaped, and flexible.  You start with the big sweeping parts of the shape, and then hone-in on the finer details.  As you work the clay, it begins to dry.  It becomes less pliable.  It starts to stand on its own.  As the clay continues to dry, even slight adjustments are difficult.

What you do to shape your child’s view of the world, their understanding of right and wrong, the importance of serving others, understanding how their decisions impact themselves and others, needs to happen as early as possible.  The foundational shaping of a productive and independent adult happens very early.

Shaping the clay is only half the challenge.  To fully mature and keep its shape, clay needs to be fired in a kiln and heated to extremely high temperatures…a true trial by fire.  Your child will face many trials by fire.  Many will be theirs alone, while some will be shared with their parents.  Give your child (and yourself) the freedom to succeed and fail in the various trials of life.  Always remember the main goal is to help your child become the greatest version of themselves they can, have lasting values, and be someone who can stand the heat and come out better for it.

5.  Laugh with each other, and at each other…a lot.

6.  Parenting isn’t a democracy.  Parents make the rules.  Your child needs the structure that comes from a well-disciplined environment that you create.        

7.  If you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to tell your child about it.  They can learn just as much from your mistakes as they can from their own.  In fact, they will probably learn more from how you handle your mistake than the actual mistake.

8.  Kids need balance as much as adults.  Adults often talk about trying to achieve an optimal life-work balance.  The same thing should apply to kids. This may mean that they can’t play on the club soccer team, take sailing lessons, and have a lead part in the school play all at the same time.  Help your kids make trade-off’s to achieve an optimal balance of activities, school, work, etc.  Some of the most valuable time in a kid’s life is the “down time” relaxing with their parents.  As much as people talk about “quality time” with their kids, I think there is also a lot of value in “quantity time” that shouldn’t be forgotten in the hustle to do more with each day.

9.  The greatest gift a mom and dad can give to their child is to love each other.  Take the time to ensure that your child gets to see the love between their parents grow each day.  A loving family is a delight to behold, and your child will revel in such a nurturing environment.

9 ¾.  Your goal should be to help your child become a productive and independent adult, who adds value to their community.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Kung Fu Masters

“The measure of a Kung Fu Master isn’t his own Kung Fu, but that of his student.“

There are many measures of greatness in life. Wealth, fame, popularity.  Just to name a few. These pale by comparison to the positive impact we can and should have on others.

Look around you. Who are your students? Do you take the time to teach? Are you an example for your students? Are you helping others achieve their greatness, and celebrating when they do?

We don’t have much time on this planet. Our energy, our ideas, and the passion we have for our ideas can live on in our students…and their students.

Imagine if each of us were measured like the Kung Fu Master. The truth is that we are, whether we know it or not.