Who Are You Listening To?
You sat in a circle. One person whispered a short story or maybe just a simple paragraph in your ear and ended by saying “Pass it on”. Your job was to tell the same story to the next person in the circle and say, “Pass it on”, then the next person and the next, until the story had been passed all the way around the circle. Finally, the last person to hear the story got up and told everybody what he or she had just heard. The original story teller then stood up and told their original version. The results were usually hilarious, because rarely, if ever, did the story make it even half way around the circle before it had been totally changed.
The reason? Nobody except the original teller had actually experienced the story. The others heard it in their own way, passed along to them by someone else who had heard the story in THEIR own way, with their own personal interpretation, based on their own life experience. Thus, they retold the story based on how their own mind filtered what had been passed along to them.
The reality is this is not just some old kids’ game.
It happens all the time in real life. How many times have you heard gossip at work or social gatherings, and then found out that it had little resemblance to actual truth? How many times have you heard stories of multiple witnesses of a car accident, each of which was slightly different than the next? The only ones who probably know what really happened are the people actually in the vehicles, and even that may be questionable at times.
Let’s extend this to teaching and mentoring?
How can one tell a story correctly, or in this case teach principles of which he or she doesn’t have first-hand knowledge, principles that they have not already embedded into their own psyche and of which they have not already experienced the results? Why would you listen to a teacher who has not “been there done that” or does not have first-hand experiential knowledge of the principles they are trying to pass along? Doing so not only does not help you as the student, it can actually be a hindrance to the learning process because incomplete or incorrect knowledge is being passed along. The teacher/mentor is bringing along his or her own incomplete or incorrect knowledge based on their own experience (or lack thereof) and their own “garbage” or baggage.
There’s a common saying that you learn by teaching.
That may be, but who really benefits from that — the student or the teacher? Another old saying, which I think is sadly all too common an occurrence, is that “those who can’t, teach”. If I can’t do something myself or have not been successful at something myself, how in the world can I be expected to successfully teach it to someone else? I think that’s called “the blind leading the blind”, is it not?
On the other end of the stick . . .
. . . there’s a thing called “unconscious competence” (which we’ll discuss in a future post) — a point in the learning curve where you are so knowledgeable of something that it becomes second nature. How many times have you driven home from work or a friend’s house, and upon arriving home, you don’t even remember the drive? That’s unconscious competence. You know it so well that you don’t even have to give it any thought. It’s just second nature. I read an article some time ago that suggested that people at this stage aren’t necessarily the best teachers, either. They either know the subject so well they have a difficult time communicating the steps in learning, or they have very little patience with anyone who can’t grasp the concept immediately. They simply can’t relate. One of the worst professors I ever had in college was one who had written the textbook himself. Every answer he gave to our questions was already in the book. I ended up flunking the course — the only one I ever flunked, and I probably could have made A’s and B’s.
Who are you listening to when it comes to learning or self-improvement?
Have the authors of the success books you read actually been successful in their respective areas of “expertise”? Have they ever made a lot of money other than by selling books about how to make money?
If you are in network marketing, do you align yourself with those who are already successful in that particular business or can put you in close contact with a truly successful mentor who is available and willing to share their personal success and the strategies they’ve used to get where they are?
If you’re having issues with a relationship, do you listen to unsolicited advice from someone who has had their own unresolved relationship issues, or do you seek someone who is in a long-running successful relationship themselves?
The best teachers — the ones you really want to listen to and who can likely best communicate the subject — are those at the “conscious competence” level. They know the subject well, they’ve had a level success in their own right that they can share from personal experience, but they are still seeking improvement and even more knowledge themselves, are still reaching for new heights and are willing to take you along with them.
Just some thoughts to ponder the next time you enter into a new business venture or seek financial advice, or assistance in resolving or improving upon a personal issue.
Here’s to a life of gratitude, success, independence, happiness and prosperity ~