Thursday, June 07, 2007

The First Step

Ten years ago I attended a conference in which the key note speaker addressed the crowd in a frustrated tone. He actually stated that he was mad at everyone in the crowd for how little thay had acheived. While we on swim upstream consistently coach removing emotion from leadership in order that the focus remain on the message, his objective was acheived. Everyone thought about what he said and was about to say.

He continued by stating that the most difficult physical act anyone on this planet will ever overcome is learning how to walk. Most of us do this between our first and second year of life, and then, biomechanically speaking, life gets easier ever thereafter.

This is where we leave the message of Paul Chek (for now) and introduce the idium of "crawl, walk, jog, sprint".

To learn anything (physical, technical, intellectual, etc) we must start at the beginning. This (I hope) is not news to anyone. The reason we have to revisit this concept so often is because of those terrible words "yeah, yeah"

How many times have you (or your employees or your children) asked how to do something, only to listen to you draw the blueprint, and then do their own thing? The challenge of parents, teachers, coaches, and all other leaders is that we can never say, show, or teach soemthing just once.

Leadership, after all, is saying the same thing over and over (albeit using different methods and modes of communicating) until our pupil 'gets it'. Our objective is to teach others a skill and have them perform it at their highest ability (to have them sprint).

In order to sprint, we need to crawl, walk, and jog. If we miss a step, we affect the eventual outcome and the entire process. It's kind of like learning to give great public speeches before you learn to listen... people will eventually realize that you only care about your own message and not what the crowd wants to hear from you. They may dub you a 'windbag'.

If we learn to crawl, and master this ability, before we walk, job, or sprint, we will break the 10 second 100m dash (we will move our community, our industry, or our family and even our very existance forward).

Paul Chek (who you will recall gave the keynote address) only attained a grade 8 education, but he researched the science of physical training, and crawled for a long time before he put it into practice (I asked him and he's read over 500 books on the subject). He then walked for years (over 20) before he jogged (started his own business) and then sprinted (started his own certification and his students command $150/ hr for personal training).

Before you demand a sprint race from your pupils... ask yourself if you've taught them how to crawl. Have you taught yourself???

Don't "yeah, yeah" one step, and neither will they.

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