Learn, then Do, then Teach

Sharing is a great way to help others as well as helping yourself.

The progression to follow is actually quite simple, learn then do, then teach.

First a person would learn how to do something (sometimes by trial and error and other times through more formal education) and then, once they learn how to do it, they proceed to do it. This could be a case of a soccer player having been taught by a coach to how to shoot or it could be an HR employee learning how to process applications.

The next step is for them to apply what they have learned. Examples would be the soccer player shooting when the opportunity arises in a game or the HR person processing applications.

Unfortunately, this is as far as many organizations ever go.

The next step is to share this knowledge with others. In this case, sharing would be teaching someone else how to shoot or what to do as applications arrive.

Not only does this type of sharing/teaching help others but it’s also is a great way for the new teacher to get a better understanding of the process. A month ago, I was representing a company in a meeting where an organization was making a presentation regarding the services they offered. Rather than having the VP make the whole presentation, they had part of the presentation done by a relatively new employee who was making his first presentation. While he did an excellent job with his presentation, a more experienced person might have been more polished. However, this was part of his education process and will help make him a better employee. For a soccer player who has learned how to shoot and is able to shoot in a game, the next step might be to help coach younger players on shooting. Not only does this help the younger players (the sharing) but it also will make the older player think more about the technique which will eventually make them a better player.

Create opportunities to learn, then do, then teach and you are others will continue to grow

Have a great day!

Lawrence

Plan then Act then Evaluate

One of the things people are regularly being encouraged to do is “take action”.

While there is no doubt that some people have to step and up and, as NIKE would say ‘Just Do It!’, to be successful, it takes much more than this.

Before ‘taking action’, you would want to plan. Those who plan before taking action (without over planning which can result in analysis paralysis) are most likely going to be more successful than those who simply take action.

The next step after planning and then taking action is to evaluate. The evaluation stage allows you to learn from what you have done, whether it’s how to repeat and build upon what you have done well or to correct what didn’t work. If you do not incorporate the evaluation stage, you will not grow since you will not be learning from previous experiences.

The people who use all three phases frequently do it in a linear way:

Plan then Act then Evaluate.

However, it’s important to think of this as more of a circular process where you:

Plan then Act then Evaluate then Plan then Act then Evaluate etc

Your planning should be based on previous evaluation so this is a constantly evolving process rather than simply a linear one.

Learn from previous actions, plan to improve on future actions and continue to grow as a person!

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Have a great day!

Lawrence

Ask Why

One of the things I tell people when I start coaching them is if I tell them to do something and they don’t know why, they need to ask.

Anybody can do things the right way for a short time but if they don’t know whey they are doing it that way, they haven’t actually learned anything and will inevitably deviate from that way at some point because they don’t know why they are doing it that way anyway.

Learning takes place not when the person does it the right way but rather when they know why they are doing it that way and what make it the right way.

In school, some people will memorize answers to questions, take a test, get an “A” and never learn a thing. It’s the people who actually understand the how the answer was arrived at (in other words, they not only know the answer but they also know the reason for the answer), who have actually learned. The difference between the people who memorized the answer and the people who actually learned the reason why is the people who learned the reason why will be able to do it the correct way over and over again, even when minor variables changed. The people who just memorized the answer wont get any further than that one day.

If you are taught something and you just do it and don’t take the time to ask why, it’s your fault you aren’t growing as a person.

There are still many people who think an adequate answer to “why” is “because I said so”. While the people who respond this way think it’s their way of showing authority, the reality is, in most cases, it shows a lack of knowledge. When someone says “because I said so” I hear “I don’t know so will pretend instead”.

If I tell someone to do something and they ask me the reason behind it, I see this as a learning opportunity for them. The exception is if they are asking “why?” as a stalling technique (meaning rather than doing something, they simply keep asking why, similar to what a little kid might do), if they do this, then I will take a harder stand and simply insist they do the task.

On the rare occasions I ask someone to do something, they ask me why and I can’t explain, I will step back and reexamine why I asked and frequently, will change the request.

The other exception to this (besides the stalling) is that occasionally, I will ask someone to do something and once they do it, it will become evident the reason why they did it. In cases like that, I will explain that they will understand shortly and if, after doing the task, they still don’t understand, I will then explain in full.

Asking why is a great way to learn and not doing so will result in many lost opportunities.

Have a great day!

Lawrence

Proximics and Spatial Relations

When you meet with people do you ever take into consideration the layout of the room you are meeting in? For example, do you look to see if there are barriers to effective communications which, while not always intentional, can greatly reduce the effectiveness of the meeting?

A simple example is when there is a meeting between representatives of two companies in a room and they sit across the table from each other. The table in between the two sides represents a barrier from effective communication as one side (or both) will feel the other side needs the big table as protection. While this isn’t always a conscious thought, subconsciously, this barrier can make any compromise difficult, if not impossible.

If someone comes into your office to meet and you are sitting in a plush chair behind your desk and the visitor is sitting in a vastly inferior chair on the other side of your desk, this sends a strong message. Instead of meeting in this environment, if at all possible, situate your office in a way so you can meet with people on the same level, sitting on comparable chairs with nothing in between.

Realize when you are speaking with a child, if you are in a situation where you need to demonstrate dominance, you are going to look down on them, which will demonstrate your superiority. However, if you are trying to comfort them and have more effective communication, you will get on their level so it’s no longer an intimidating situation. The same applies to business communication. Physically speaking down to people (by being on a higher level) is just as intimidating as speaking down to people in your use of words.

If you are in negotiations with a company and there are three people from your side and three from their side in a board room, rather than have your three people sit on one side of the table and the other three sit on the other side of the table, spread out evenly so there are people from the different companies sitting next to each other rather than always across from each other (on the other hand, if this is an adversarial meeting, you might intentionally keep the groups on opposite sides).

When communicating one on one, do what you can to remove barriers between you (physical barriers) and speak from the same level whenever possible.

Proximics and spatial relations are fascinating subjects and this is just touching the very tip of the subjects. I would strongly recommend people research more on these subjects to become greater communicators.

Have a great day.

Lawrence

Priorities

When people realize they need to get more organized in their life (whether work related or otherwise) one of the first things many do is make lists of “things to do”

Each day they create their “to do” list and then they start at the top of the list, do the first thing and then cross it off the list. They then proceed to the next item on the list. Inevitably, they don’t get everything done each day (simply because there is always more things to do than time to do them in) so some get put off till the next day or, they never get done.

While this method is much more effective than doing nothing, with just a little bit more thought, it can be done much more successfully.

First, create your “to do” list then create three more lists titled A, B and C. Put the most important things that need to be done in the A list, the things that aren’t as important in the B list and the least important things in the C list. Next, redo these three lists (either by creating three more lists or if you are using a white board, just erase and move around) by placing the most important in the A list on the top of the list, then the second most important next etc.

Once the lists are created, start by doing the things at the top of the A list and work your way down that list, then do the things at the top of the B list and when done with that list, do the things at the top of the C list.

By prioritizing in this way, it helps to make sure the most important things always get done and if something doesn’t get done, it will be the least important things.

It’s best to create these lists in a prominent place so that you can monitor the list on a regular basis. If the lists are scribbled on a sheet of paper on your desk, it’s easy to forget about them. However, if they are on a big white board on the wall for all to see, not only will it be an effective reminder to you but it will also let others see where you are with your lists. If you are a manager, it helps if you can walk by your employees desk and see what they are working on, what they have already accomplished and what they still need to get done.

This can be done in a relatively short period of time yet help make you much more organized.

I will admit that I occasionally cheat on these lists. If I have 15 projects on the three lists to do, and the first item on the A list takes half the day, I might look for one or two projects on all three lists that can be done quickly so that instead of being 4-5 hours into the day and only having accomplished one thing, I can knock those off quickly so I have done accomplished three things and will feel better about myself and then start on item 2 of the A list. It’s weird how I can successfully play mind games with myself in this way, know that I am doing it and it still works. The key is not to waste too much time on these smaller projects and get back on schedule quickly.

Prioritizing your projects will make you more efficient, more effective and allow you to accomplish a whole lot more.

Have a great day

Lawrence

Details make the difference

The previous article discussed not sweating the small stuff by not letting small details get in the way of the big picture. This one is a bit different.

There are many examples where taking care of minor details can have a huge impact on the big picture. Some examples are when a building or area is allowed to fall into disrepair. Windows are broken, graffiti is on the walls, drugs are being sold in the area, crime is rampant etc. While some people would look big picture and try to figure out how to counteract the crime, people have realized by fixing the windows and painting over the graffiti, it sends a message to the community and it’s quite common for the drug problems and other crimes to lessen if not go away completely.

I can think of many times when sitting in a hotel lobby, if there are newspapers left randomly on the tables, someone will sit down with a cup of coffee, pick up a paper, start reading and when they get up to leave, they leave the cup of coffee (and frequently other garbage) behind. If the papers were not lying around randomly (either they weren’t there in the first place or they were organized in some fashion) the likelihood of them leaving garbage behind would be much lower..

People who would normally not think of littering will litter if they are in an area with a lot of garbage already on the ground. It’s an attitude of “a little more garbage wont make a big difference” so they start littering as well. Instead, if the garbage had been picked up in the first place, the next people wouldn’t compound the problem.

Another example would be with speeding. If a town is having a problem with excessive speeding in a certain area, they could pass all kinds of laws and regulations prohibiting speeding etc (this would be thinking big picture) or, they can start ticketing speeders and when others see the police out giving tickets, they will start to slow down.

Sometimes if you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff gets taken care of naturally.

As was mentioned in the previous post, this is why it’s so helpful to have a good mixture of people working together, some working big picture and others working on the details. It’s extremely unusual for one person to be good at both so getting the correct combination can prove to be invaluable.

In the same way that keeping an eye on the big picture can help you get past the small obstacles, sometimes taking care of the small obstacles will allow you to see the big picture much clearer

If you find this post helpful, please share with others and encourage them to subscribe at http://lawrencefine.com/blog/subscribe/

Have a great day!

Lawrence