I am sure that anyone who reads this Tip has heard a statement similar to this one at some point in their life. Anyone who has been around an educational program, a seminar leader or a motivational speaker, has heard over and over again that in order to be successful, you have to do more than just hear good ideas. You must actually put them into practice. I am sure you have heard the old joke: Three bullfrogs are sitting on a lily pad; one decides to jump in the water. How many frogs are left? Answer? Three. Just because you decide to do something doesn’t mean you do anything! This week, I want to focus on one particular aspect of that concept.
We communicate on a daily basis with words. We relate to our families, friends and the significant other people in our lives, all with words. We all hear so much information everyday. Ours truly is a verbal society.
Also, you cannot walk through an airport, a shopping mall, a motel lobby, or any other area, without seeing many advertisements or signs being displayed. Even as we drive along the highway, we are bombarded by road signs and billboards trying to get their message across. We see a lot of information everywhere we go.
Although we communicate with words, and learn much by what we hear and see, I firmly believe that most of us are not willing to take the third step and actually do something about what we see and hear. I also believe the reason for this is fear of failure. Most of us have good intentions and are well-meaning people. However, the rubber meets the road when we are actually willing to step out and try to learn something by attempting to do it.
Last week was my wife’s birthday. Do you know what she wanted for her birthday? A garden rotor tiller. When she opened the box I felt fear. It had to be assembled! I am no mechanic, but I slowly read the directions and put the thing together. It worked. Just call me John Bunyan!
When was the last time you tried to do something that you had no idea how to do? You may have failed miserably in the process, but you probably also learned a valuable lesson. I realize that sometimes we step out and try to do something we have not done previously, and we succeed! That is a good feeling. However, many times in that process we meet failure squarely in the face and that is an uncomfortable feeling.
I have been exposed to a massive amount of information in my own life. Yet, I find the only part of my education that really is valuable to me, is what I actually do. Let me give you two examples.
I know how to ride a bicycle. I learned how to do that over 65 years ago. In the process of learning how to ride a bike I fell off several times. I skinned my knees and my elbows several times. One time I even had a honeybee fly into my mouth when I was riding along. That was the day I learned to keep my mouth closed when riding a bike!
I could hear people talk about riding a bicycle all day long. I could read books or watch people on TV or in the movies ride bikes everyday. But until I am willing to actually get on a bicycle and start trying to learn how to ride the bike for myself, I will never learn how to ride a bicycle!
The second example has to do with my computer. It is incredibly frustrating to me to work with a machine that is so much smarter than I am! It is a highly technical process. Yet, several years ago, I decided it was time to enter the world of technology by asking questions, learning and being willing to fail. Don’t get me wrong, I am still no computer expert, but I am very, very grateful for how comfortable I now feel working on my computer. I have had some great help from people who have been patient to show me how to do things and let me practice for myself rather than just telling me about them. I mean I even know how to add an attachment to my emails. Watch out Bill Gates!
I have a friend who has gone to law school, but has not yet passed the bar exam. She came to one of our training programs and told the class, “I had to hire a personal trainer to help me pass the bar exam.” She said that he would often get frustrated and “fuss at her’, but she would always remind him that she was paying for him to tutor her. One day she told him, “What you are doing may feel good to you, but it is not helping me at all!” That captures the concept I am trying to communicate. Just explaining and showing someone how to do something is not very helpful. However, actually letting them do it, even if they fail, is the real key to learning and moving forward in any endeavor. People learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.
Let me encourage you to move into the world of “doers.” Stop looking. Stop talking. Start doing! You will be the one who profits most from this miraculous transformation.
Tip: What you hear, you forget; what you see, you remember; what you do, you understand.
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm