Show What You Know

dreamstimefree_2404805My husband and I went to a baseball game recently.  Listening to the National Anthem brought back a memory from grade school.  The experience turned out to be one that probably shaped my life more than I thought.

I was in 5th or 6th grade.  The teacher gave us an assignment for the next day:  learn “The Star Spangled Banner.”  I was more than a little concerned—that’s four long verses!  When I got home and told Mom, she told me I’d better start working on it.  After supper, she helped me.  By the time I went to bed, I had the entire anthem memorized.  I didn’t really understand all of it, but I had the words memorized, and in the right order.

At school the next day, the teacher called on my classmates to recite the song.  One by one they went to the front of the class and recited anywhere from a few words to a few lines.  A couple may have recited the first verse.  That was it!

I remember wondering what I should do.  I knew the entire anthem.  That was the assignment and so that’s what I did.  Part of me thought I should stand up and demonstrate what I had done and what I knew.

But part of me wanted to belong.  I didn’t want to stand out from everyone.  I didn’t want to be different.  It would be easy to recite less than what I knew—maybe one verse.  That would be a good compromise, wouldn’t it?  Demonstrate some of my knowledge while not being too different.

I still hadn’t decided what to do when the teacher called my name.  As I was walking to the front of the class, though, I decided to do it.  I had spent the entire evening learning it, Mom had spent time helping me, why shouldn’t I show what I knew?

When I finished all four verses, there was a brief silence (and I thought, “Oh no!  What did I do?!”) and then wild clapping.

My classmates didn’t care that I learned more than they did.  They weren’t going to shun me for that.  It was all good!

I think it is good to show what we know.  If we don’t, no one will know except us.  And others need to know if we are going to succeed.  I have since learned that it’s important to be respectful, to use a certain amount of courteousness and tact at times, but don’t be afraid to show what you know.

To Create 2017, Learn from 2016

dreamstime_xs_63165764Many people make New Year’s resolutions.  Many of those who make resolutions do not achieve them.

I think one reason is that many of us do not learn from the old year.  What did we do?  Why did we do it?  Did our decisions and actions achieve the results we wanted?  If not, what could we have done differently?  What worked, what didn’t?  What have we learned?

If you truly want to achieve your goals for 2017, I suggest you first think very strongly and clearly about 2016.  Use that knowledge to develop goals and plans for 2017.

May you learn from the old to create the new!

Past, Present, Future

Past Present Future sign“Learn from the past. Live in the present. Plan for the future.”

I like this. I think it sums up very nicely what we need to do. (I couldn’t remember where I had read it so I searched it. What I found indicated that it is a quote by Audrey Farrell, author. As far as I know, she is not a relative.)

If we do this, learn from the past, live in the present, and plan for the future, we should do very well in our lives.

Personal Silos

dreamstime_xs_21201109In some companies, departments become silos. Departments do not want to work with other departments or share information with other departments. This hurts the company as a whole. Every department in a company needs to work together for the company to be successful. I think we can do something similar to ourselves, too, if we are not careful.

I don’t think we can separate our professional lives from our personal lives. It is one life after all, just different aspects. Even within our professional life or our personal life, we have different roles that we need to fulfill. We might be a supervisor, an employee, a supplier, and a customer in our professional life. We might be a spouse, parent, child, and friend in our personal life.

Although we might need to focus on one role at a time, all the other roles are still there in the background. We can’t silo them off. We can’t isolate aspects of our life from each other. We need to acknowledge them all and find a way to balance them all.

We can also take what we learn from one role and apply it to other roles. For example, what we learn about customer service when we are the customer can be applied to situations when we are the supplier to improve the customer service we provide. What we learn about people in either our professional or personal life can be used in the other. For example, the concept of “leading by example” is not that different for employees as it is for children. If you want either your employees or children to be honest, then you have to be honest.

What it really comes down to is that we need to find a way to accept and balance all aspects of our lives and not pretend that only one exists at a time.

Study for A’s?

Study for A’s? (Video Link)

I still remember something a high school teacher told my class many years ago.  (I wish I could remember his name.)  He said that if we study for A’s, we may or may not get them.  However, if we study to truly learn and understand the information, the A’s will come automatically.

He was right.  When I studied to learn the concepts and details of the material, the A’s came easily.

I think this concept can apply to our professional and personal lives as well. 

If we work to get a raise or promotion, we may or may not get it.  However, if we work to truly learn and understand our company and its practices, products, customers, and suppliers, and use this to excel at our jobs, we will find success.

If we work to improve our relationships, it may or may not happen.  However, if we work to truly understand the people in our relationships and how they think and feel, how can it not improve our relationships?

What is your goal?  To get an “A” or to really learn?