No matter how old we are, we are never too old to learn something new.
My clients often tell me how much they like to learn. That’s terrific! Most of my work is focused on interpersonal effectiveness and there is so much to learn about working with others. It’s impossible to know everything you need to know about others and as we progress through our lives and careers, we all hit a few hurdles. Different situations call for a new skill and different personalities can require a challenging amount of flexibility. Knowing your strengths is important, but in our fast and faster paced world, there isn’t always time to reflect, learn, and apply new skills.
A few clients tell me that they have never needed help, support, or guidance. These are the people who may be overdue for a head-scratching challenge that require some guided-execution. And if that same person tell me that the KNOW what to do and yet these is no observable evidence that they can execute that skill in way that will get them the desired outcome, it’s hard to believe that they truly know what they say they know.
If you attend a Polished Presentations Skills training program, but are not presenting concise, articulate, , well planned or prepared presentations then there is a gap between what you say you know and what you put into practice. You can read a million time management books but if you don’t prioritize and develop some discipline and structure to your week, it’s unlikely you’ll see a different outcome in your work effectiveness and task completion. It’s not too hard to point at many gaps people have in the workplace – the gap between what they profess to know and how they really behave. There are ways to close the gap that exists between knowing and doing:
Maybe Not Alone – Not everyone needs a coach, mentor, or consultant but sometimes that’s exactly what is needed: someone to hold your feet to the fire and ask the hard questions. Someone to hold up a mirror so you can see your actions clearly reflected and to ask you to explain behavior that appears at odds with your stated goals and desires.
Expect Some Pain – Last year a client told me that while he understood what he needed to do, he hated the discomfort of learning how to put new skills into practice. It was so distasteful to him that he realized that the discomfort was not really worth the goal. Although our work together was at an end, I respected his honesty. He was not going to endure the pain of working to improve his ability. (The consequence of that decision on his part was now going to be a conversation between him and his boss.)
Keep Track – If you want to move forward, measure where you are (where you’ve been) and track every effort. Celebrate the increments. Most people don’t go from ‘uninformed’ to ‘informed’ to ‘mastery.’ The goal is progress, not perfection.
Feedback – It’s not just your opinion that counts. You may think you are a great communicator, or manager, or leader, but no one else does! Examine how you are assessing your abilities. A lack of feedback is a lack of information. Asking others to tell you how they know you have specific skills is a way of getting closer to obtaining useful information. (How would you describe my ability at coaching? What do I do that makes you think that? )
Showing others by doing is the best way to prove that you know the things you say you know.
Sometimes it’s the only way.