Here’s one I heard when I worked at OhioHealth: Watch one, Do one, Teach one.
The person who taught me this phrase explained that this philosophy was engrained in her as a nurse. To fully learn a new procedure, you watch it being done, you do it yourself, and then you teach it to someone else.
That last step is critical. It is what separates common practitioners of any craft from the masters. It is where most of us stop short.
Think about it. If you are going to teach something, there is a level of expectation that you know the material. It forces us to raise our game. We must have the confidence in our skills if we are to teach others.
I believe that is why so few of us teach; we lack the confidence in our own skills or knowledge. That is a shame. There are many people with much to give, who hide behind a cloak of fear.
A clear benefit to teaching others is that we learn more ourselves. One of my friends in college taught classes at another school. He was not the smartest person in our own classrooms. But, he was a good teacher. His own struggles as a student helped him as a teacher because he could relate to his students’ challenges. He shared with me how much he was learning by teaching. He also shared his joy in receiving high marks from his students.
You don’t have to be a master of the material to teach. Some of my most memorable teachers in school were those who, rather than spewing forth their vast knowledge from on high, invited us to join them in their own journey of exploration on the subject. Those shared explorations were far more interesting than sitting through boring lectures.
Now it’s your turn.
Watch one. Do one. Teach one.
(Side note: I take this concept of teaching seriously. I now offer one-on-one coaching for speakers and entertainers who want to better connect with their audiences. If you want your time in front of others to be more powerful, give me a call.)
Are you fiercely independent? Do you love doing things all by yourself?
Here’s a thought. Invite a friend to join you.
Confession time. I love doing things myself. I abhor asking for help.
Maybe this is a guy thing. Watch people burdened by a load of boxes enter a building. Chances are, you will see what I have noticed. A women laden down with a bunch of stuff, when approached, “Can I help you with that?” will more often than not say, “Sure.” A man in the same situation is far more prone to respond, “Nah, I’m good.” despite items falling off the stack they are balancing.
It is only over the last few years that I have learned the joy of asking for help. It is not the asking that I enjoy. It is the camaraderie that results in working on a project together.
My fierce independent streak has put me in dangerous situations.
For example… Several years ago, I purchased a large air compressor for my shop. We’re not talking about a nice portable unit that is meant to be moved. No, this is a full-scale, 5′ tall, behemoth typically used in a mid-sized production shop. (Why? Because I could. But, that is a different topic. )
The point is, it’s big. And quite heavy. When I bought it, it required 3 of us to load it into my van. Those other 2 people did not follow me home to help unload it. They had other customers to serve.
At home, I realized the folly of what I was attempting to do even as I was sliding it out of the van – by myself. I knew this could easily go wrong. In my head, I was already playing out the worst case scenario of being pinned underneath this thing, wondering whether I’d be able to hang on long enough to yell out to the mail carrier who was due to arrive sometime in the next hour.
OK, let’s be honest. It’s not an independent streak. It is shear stubbornness.
Obviously, since I am now telling the story, it worked out in the end. There were no trips to the emergency room.
I’d like to say I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t do stupid stuff. But, I’d be lying. I still get myself into dangerous situations. However, I am getting better at asking for help.
It is not avoiding danger that has helped me change. It is a realization that it’s more fun to do things with another person.
Just last night, I drove to a friend’s house to have him help me replace the side view mirrors on my truck. I could have managed it alone. Maybe.
The real reason I made the trip was to spend time with my friend. The side benefit was that the new mirrors are installed. Correctly. The first time. (My friend is an avid car repair hobbyist.)
What it has taken me way too long to figure out is the joy of treating projects not as a way to accomplish a task, but as a means to spend time with another human being. The task itself becomes secondary to the pleasure of the interaction.
Next time you find yourself laden with boxes, burdens, or tasks, reach out to another person and invite them to join you. You’ll both benefit.
You might or might not accomplish the task you originally set out to accomplish. Either way, you’ll enjoy the process more with the company of a friend.
In one of the gyms I used to go to, there was a sign prominently displayed in the weight room that read, “Go heavy or go home.”
In another context, I frequently heard the saying, “Play to win or don’t bother playing.”
Each of these sayings has their place. If you are a naturally competitive person, then both of these probably strike you as being obvious. You likely feel wholehearted agreement.
One problem with these concepts is that in the wrong circumstances, they can induce substantial unnecessary amounts of stress.
Another issue is they might cause you to give up early. Maybe you look ahead toward the finish line, realize there is no way for you to win this particular race, and therefore stop trying. Give up on this one, move on to the next race, maybe you’ll have better luck there.
These sayings do not fully incorporate the level of influence factors beyond our effort have on the outcome. I’m not talking about making excuses when things don’t go our way. I am talking about accepting the reality that there’s often more involved in the decisions others make than simply the amount of effort that we put into trying to sway them one way or another.
I recently spoke to a group of recruiters for an organization. Their key metric is the number of people they are able to get to sign on the dotted line. The majority of their training is based on classic sales methodology, with “getting to the close” being a key component.
The problem is that they were becoming overly obsessed with that metric of closing the deal. Each person they were recruiting was seen as critical to their success in their job as recruiter. When they were unable to seal the deal with a particular individual, they viewed it as failure. They took it personally. It was creating an enormous amount of stress on the individuals.
I can relate.
I have this same experience in my own business. I tend to view each prospective client as critical to the success of my business. When a prospective client tells me, “we’ve decided to go a different direction” (a frequently used phrase instead of simply saying, “no”) it is easy to take this personally. Being a one-person service-oriented business, the product I am selling is, essentially, myself. As a result, failure to close the sale takes on a high degree of personal rejection.
Do you enjoy rejection? I sure don’t.
The attitude shift that has helped me the most, and that I shared with this group of recruiters, is the concept of Involved Detachment.
What does that mean?
It means going heavy and playing to win… while detaching yourself from the outcome.
It means giving it your absolute best shot, doing all you can to convey your value proposition. And then once you’ve done that, let it go. You’ve done your part, now it is up to them.
This is still very much a work in progress for me. There are good days, and there are not so good days.
It is easy to view an opportunity as being impossible to win. As the level of the events at which I work has elevated, so has the level of the people I am being compared against for the time slot. While it is pretty cool to be considered alongside some of these people, it can also be intimidating. I view many of them with such high esteem that it seems pointless to even bother submitting my proposal.
But, just as there are factors beyond my influence for which another person might be chosen, there are also factors beyond my control which cause a client to select me over the others being considered.
Got that? It is not my job to tell them “no”. There is a reason that they chose to contact me in the first place, to include me in their search.
My job is simply to understand as much as possible about the client’s goals, put forth what I have to offer as clearly as possible, do it well, and then let it go.
Where can you apply this concept in your life and work? In what areas are you being overly concerned with the outcome? Are you quitting before you even start?
As a ventriloquist, I regularly practice in front of a mirror. My practice studio has a large one permanently mounted on the wall.
It is very helpful as I work on the character animation to be able to see how it looks by watching myself in the mirror. Each character needs to act and react, just like in a traditional play.
Sometimes, especially as I am developing a new bit, I will spend hours working on nuanced movement for delivery of a single line of dialog, looking for the precise motion to get the biggest reaction. If I have a joke that I know in my gut is a good joke, but it is not getting the laughter that I think it should, I go back to the mirror and work on the delivery, adjusting timing, phrasing, and gestures.
Dancers often practice in front of a mirror. The dance studio where my kids studied has a wall full of floor-to-ceiling mirrors. It was an essential tool for them to learn movement.
That wall of mirrors in the dance studio also has a curtain that can be drawn across the entire expanse. So does the mirror in my practice studio.
Why? Because at a certain point in the rehearsal process you need to shift from thinking of what is being reflected back on yourself and focus instead on what you are projecting to the audience.
You need to draw the curtain, turn around, and perform for the audience.
Many performers miss this critical transition. Mea culpa. Like many entertainers, I started performing as a way to get attention, to seek approval. The applause was the goal. It signified to me that I was doing something right, that I was valued.
I can tell you the exact moment when it dawned on me that I was spending way too much time looking in the mirror, seeking applause as a way of improving the reflection.
It was a game changer for me in my entertainment career.
More importantly, it was a game changer for the audiences I serve. Now when I walk onto the stage, my focus is entirely on them and what they are receiving rather than on what they are reflecting back.
This same concept applies to leaders. Some leaders are focused on the mirror. They stand looking into the mirror, with their team behind them. They see the team’s purpose as one of reflecting positively on the leader.
Perhaps you’ve worked for a leader like this. Perhaps you are one. It’s annoying.
A mirror can be a useful tool. It helps us develop our technique. The key is to realize that the mirror is not our target audience. We are not here to perform for ourselves. Entertainers need to perform for an audience. Leaders need to lead a team.
Use the mirror. Practice in front of it. Hone your technique. But, know when it is time to draw the curtain, turn around, and focus on the audience.
It seems every time I turn around, something I thought I knew well has changed.
The good news is that most of the “stuff” keeps getting better. The bad news is, I have to work harder and harder to keep up with it.
Sure, you can bemoan the preponderance of cheap stuff and how the new stuff doesn’t last like the old stuff. In my experience, if you are willing to spend the same amount of money you did on the old stuff, adjusted for inflation, the new stuff is far superior. In most cases, when I am disappointed in the quality of the newer version of things, it’s because I paid far less than I did for the original. The saying, “You get what you pay for” does have merit.
Here’s one example: Sound systems.
I learned how to run sound for events when I was in college and have always enjoyed it. I did some fun events and met some amazing people. One of my favorites was Noel Paul Stookey (best known as Paul, of Peter, Paul & Mary). He gave me permission to record the concert, as long as it was only for myself. That bootleg version of “The Wedding Song“, taken directly off the mixing console, is still one of my favorite things to listen to.
In my own business as entertainer/speaker, my sound gear followed much of the traditional model. Most of what I’ve been hauling around for the last 12 years are simply newer versions of that same stuff I used way back in college.
Speaker design has changed dramatically since I first learned how to fill a room with sound. Traditionally, bigger was better, and heavy was seen as a good thing. That’s great until you get to be where I am in life and struggle to lift those heavy things up onto the speaker poles.
After much research and in-person auditioning of new systems at the sound equipment store, I plunked down some funds for a new “stick” system. The most well known of these is the Bose L1. (I am of the opinion that Bose is extremely overpriced, charging a premium for their brand name, so I went with a more value-priced alternative brand.)
These new systems use a completely different design methodology, promising things that seem impossible based on my previous understanding of how things work.
I had my doubts about the new system. How could this thing possibly fill a room to the level I was used to with my older, heavier system? I got to give it a good run at a recent event for over 350 people. Bottom line? It totally rocked. Wow!
What is the point of all of this rambling? If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you know I’m building up to something. And you also know I’m going to be blatantly obvious about it.
Here you go.
Where are you clinging to old ways of doing things when newer, better methodologies now exist? Metaphorically, are you still hauling around heavy, difficult to lift, speakers when there are lighter, easier to use versions available?
Look around. See where you can make some strategic upgrades that will simplify your life.
If you’re at all like me, asking for help does not come naturally. Giving help, sure. Asking for it? No way!
I’m not sure when this started. It’s been with me for as long as I can remember. Perhaps you can relate.
“Can I give you a hand with that?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
And the next thing you know, that load you are carrying comes crashing to the ground. If only you had accepted that offer of assistance.
I am starting to come around. In small ways, here and there, I am allowing others to provide assistance. In some cases I am even asking for it.
And guess what? Nothing bad has happened. My friends are not running away in terror, viewing me as some selfish jerk who is constantly asking for things. Rather, the opposite is happening. My friends continue to offer MORE help.
What? How can that be?
Think about it. When a friend asks you for your help, how does that make you feel? If you’re like most people, it feels good. It feels like you are valued by your friend.
Sure, there are situations (like non-profit groups to which we belong) where it just feels like one more thing being added to our plates. But, that’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about.
When a friend, or someone you respect, asks you for your help, it feels good. We feel honored to have been asked.
You can honor your friends in exactly the same way. Show them how much you respect their opinion by asking for it. Show them how much you respect their ability to do whatever it is that they do well by asking them for their help.
What image do you convey when you walk into a room? If you were able to watch yourself enter a meeting where you are in charge, what would you see?
I confess, I am a Justin Timberlake fan. But, even if you do not have the kind of JT bromance that I do, there is something to learn from his performance during halftime at this year’s Superbowl.
As always, there were critics who called the show “lame”, “mediocre”, and even “boring”. These critics were not watching JT’s face.
I challenge you to watch it again. This time watch through a different lens. Maybe even turn the sound off. Focus on his face. Here’s a direct link: https://youtu.be/2z3EUY1aXdY
Do you see it? Unbridled confidence, without a trace of arrogance.
When I watch JT perform, whether it is this halftime show, or the Netflix special of a previous concert, or perhaps someday actually attending a concert in person, what I most admire and feel drawn to is that absolute confidence that he belongs on that stage.
Coupled with that confidence is an air of welcoming you, the viewer, to come along for the ride. There is a sense of, “Hey, let’s have some fun together.”
Some performers display confidence, but there is also an air of arrogance about it. It’s more exclusionary. It’s more like, “I deserve to be here. I’m better than you. Watch me. Aren’t I great?”
This same attitude plays out in places beyond the stage. Think about how your boss, or others up the executive chain, walk into a meeting room. Do they treat you like a stereotypical Catholic School teacher, telling you to sit down and shut up? Or are they like JT – clearly in charge of the situation, but inviting you to be an active participant?
How do YOU behave in this situation? When you are the one in charge, do you lord it over people? Or do you maintain order while inviting participation?
Exude confidence. But, in the words of Han Solo, “That’s great kid. Don’t get cocky.”
What is holding you back from taking the steps that you know you need to take to get what you want?
One of my dogs, Westley, loves to be with people. When there are people in the house, he goes crazy if he can’t be in the same room. If you move from one room to another, he will follow you.
The problem is that he doesn’t like stairs. My office is in the basement. When I head to my office, he will stand at the top of the stairs and whine. And whine. And whine. Until I stand at the bottom of the stairs and coax him to come down. Without that urging, he will stand there and continue to whimper.
He knows he wants to be down in the basement where I am. But, he can’t make himself take that first step to get there. Unless someone is standing there calling him. Once he takes the first step, he readily continues down the stairs. It is only that first step that requires encouragement.
It’s as if he needs someone else’s approval to take that first step. He can see it. He knows he’s done it before. But, for some reason he must have someone else tell him it’s OK.
Where are you behaving like this? What goal do you have for yourself that you are finding it difficult to take that first step? Where are you waiting for approval?
You know that all you need to do is make a start; once that first step is accomplished, the remaining steps will flow naturally. But, you find yourself staring down (or up) that staircase, unable to take that first step.
How badly do you want to achieve your goal? Are you going to continue standing there, whining, whimpering, waiting for someone to coax you across the threshold?
Don’t wait. Take that step. Coax yourself. The only approval you need is your own.
Know your goal and go for it. You’ve been approved.
I have previously written about heroes and role models. One of mine recently passed away. Bob Isaacson. He was 80 years old.
Like many of my friends, I knew Bob from work. Bob was a ventriloquist. He was a staple at the Vent Haven ConVENTion, an annual gathering of ventriloquists from around the world. He was beloved by everyone who knew him.
One of Bob’s joys every summer was to be the Emcee for the Junior Open Mic event at the convention. Occasionally, he would perform as part of his time on stage. But, primarily, he saw his role as supporter of the latest generation of young people learning the art and craft that he loved. He took his role seriously. One aspect he was known to work especially hard at was to pronounce each person’s name correctly as he introduced them. Bob saw this as an important part of showing respect.
Everyone who has met Bob has their own story of why he is so special to them. To me, Bob embodied the term, “statesman”.
Merriam-Webster defines statesman as: a wise, skillful, and respected political leader. If you remove the word, “political” from that definition, you have a perfect description of Bob: wise, skillful, and deeply respected.
Bob was always eager to sit and talk with anyone at any skill level about the art and craft of ventriloquism. He would tell stories from his experience. Then, what made him unique, he would turn the conversation around to you, offering words of encouragement and gentle guidance. Bob had a knack for treating you as the most important thing in the world to him at that moment.
The other word that comes to mind when I think of Bob is, “gentleman”. While I have no knowledge of whether Bob comes from noble birth, he always conducted himself with the spirit of a true gentleman. Again, from Merriam-Webster, “A man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior.” He was truly a gentle man.
Much of Bob’s influence was through his skills on stage. He brought laughter to many. But, as strong as that was, his impact off stage was even greater than on. Bob showed me what it looks like to be a kind, loving human being.
Like much of America, I’ve been watching a lot of football the past few days. It’s college bowl season. The concept of calling a time out struck me as something that has meaning far beyond football.
In football, the purpose of calling a time out is to give the team a chance to pause, reconsider their current strategy, revise it as needed, and sometimes just to give the players an opportunity to breath before the next play.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often one in which I call a time out – from work. It is a time to pause, reflect, and spend time with my family. Sometimes it is simply an opportunity to breath before launching into whatever is coming next.
When do you call a time out? Is your play clock running dangerously close to zero? Could you benefit from taking a moment to reconsider your current direction?
Give yourself a break. Call a time out. Then get yourself back into the game.