Thursday, June 15, 2017

You get out what you put in

 My dad was a man of many talents, but conveying them was not his strong suit. I've written about this before that I learned more from him by accident than instruction. It wasn't because he didn't try. I just couldn't see it the way he presented it. I suppose it was the same way he and his dad interacted.

My son in law and I were sitting on the back patio the other day after my grandson's fourth birthday party and we were tying knots. Mike Sievers is an Eagle Scout and I was a Scout master of sorts, but never learned all the stuff he did to get to that level.

I was showing him a short-cut to tie a clove hitch and realized my dad taught it to me. It is a quick way to make the knot and only works if the rope can be slipped over the end of whatever you are tying. I first realized this was odd when I did it during a training session at the chemical plant where I was employed and the goal of training was to educate us fire fighter/rescue team members to use rope for rescue.

Some of these guys prided themselves on their knot knowledge and with all of us being alpha personalities, it was difficult to admit they had never seen it. There was precious little actual mentoring present. It was basically every person for themselves. Learn it or not - who cares?

I asked Mike about a knot he used earlier to tie off a tarp and he called it a fisherman's knot and demonstrated it. I said "huh," and then showed him the way (once again) my dad showed me to tie that knot.  He looked at it and admitted it was superior. We talked about various knots for a bit and then got off onto other subjects.

The thing about Mike and I is he knows a lot of stuff that I don't and in this environment we both learn from each other. It is my experience that there is precious little of this one on one sharing of knowledge going on. What we have substituted is electronic instruction. Want to learn something? Watch a YouTube video. If you get it, fine. If not, fine. You can fake it till you make it.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin  Old Ben once again comes through with the simplicity of sharing knowledge.

When a person decides to become a mentor, things don't always go the direction they hope and here is a humorous example. My grandson who just turned 4 and I were having a one-sided serious discussion about dinosaurs, as he was having that theme at his birthday party. He has two small dogs that he really hasn't connected with, so to attempt to raise his understanding, I began like this, "What if you could have two little animals like dinosaurs living in your house to play with? These type of animals have been around for millions of years. Would you like that?" He looked me in the eye and just as serious as he could be, he said... "6 dollars!" I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

The key is connecting and this is the hard part.  I like this quote to explain it: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

The last few years of my career in the Chemical Plant industry, I observed there was precious little mentoring. It was completely absent at the top and of course, trickled down to the bottom rung. No one appeared willing to give anyone a boost. I mainly worked with chemical engineers and watched the new engineers flounder and fail and all because none of the veterans were willing to throw them a lifeline. When I questioned my friends, they shrugged. "Sink or swim".

The reality is they didn't need a simple lifeline, they needed someone to tie off next to them and teach them how to fight off the sharks until they could float on their own. Is it because people don't care anymore, or they simply don't have time? There must be some logical reason the golden rule is ignored. Way back in 1977 when I hired on with ARCO, I heard young guys like myself complain "No one will show you anything because they don't want you to take their job." Some of that was true I guess, but pales in comparison to modern times.

William Arthur Ward would spin like one of them newfangled gizmos if he could see the absence of compassionate instruction in today's society. Many appear to have had no guidance whatsoever. We met a considerate person of maybe 25 years the other day and my bride commented that they must have been taught to be polite from childhood. It was obvious that they "got it" and in their day to day interaction with other living creatures, they proved it. Each one, reach one, teach one. Boy, I wish it were that simple.


Anonymous said...

Pat Oldham: Excellent and yes we get out of it what we put into it.

Anonymous said...

MM: As usual....great lesson.

Terry Sain said...

Always enjoy your articles, especially when you talk about your kids and their families.

It can only happen while shopping!

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