Helping Others Learn
The well known old Chinese proverb says, If you give a person a fish, he eats for a day, if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life.
Teaching a concept to others is like that. They learn and can apply the concept. But teach someone how to learn, how to increase their knowledge, and you have given them a gift for life.
Teach someone how to read or listen effectively, so they remember what they read or heard, is like teaching them to fish.
Most people hardly listen. They can’t remember someone’s name nor what they said. When you learn to listen for content and context, for the meaning, then you will remember and those who feel listened to will remember you for that appreciation you showed.
Business expressions are often borrowed (or maybe stolen) from sports.
In baseball, the curve ball is one of the hardest pitches to hit and hit accurately. The pitch itself is thrown with a hard spin of the ball, causing the ball to drop or veer suddenly when it approaches home plate, while also maintaining a high speed (unlike the standard changeup). Its purpose is to “throw” the batter off or come as a surprise when not expected, causing them to swing and miss. Some of the best and hardest hitters in the game can train their whole life to be a great ball player, but the curve ball can slow them down very quickly when not prepared [just ask Pedro Serrano in the movie, “Major League”].
In business [and life], we use the expression to mean something unexpected, difficult to deal with, an obstacle, or a problem, especially a problem not foreseen. We can be really good at what we have in front of us, our daily routines, our normal tasks [the fastballs in life]. But those curve balls are what can really change our perspective and force us to take a step back, re-analyze, re-evaluate. That curve ball can be any size [or speed], from a slight change in a project, a cancellation of an event, or a big as a job loss, or a pandemic that changes the entire focus of a business.
We can also learn from the legal field and negotiation methods, just like those successful baseball players who practice hitting any and every form of a curve ball that is possible. A lawyer getting ready for a trial prepares for any and every question the opposition may ask. In negotiations, one brainstorms (see brainstorming techniques in several of my blogs on the subject) a list of every adverse possibility to be ready.
Now, in baseball and in business, a curve ball is expected and is more commonly thrown. It’s also evolved, with multiple versions, speeds, and occurrences. It’s extremely important to study each player, person, and scenario to know who can throw that curve ball, and when. Today, the best hitters in baseball, and the best business professionals, have made their way to the top by not only being able to predict when a curve ball will be thrown, but also being prepared and ready to “hit it out of the park” and continue to be successful.
Just as the term comes from baseball, we can learn from the sport on how to be more prepared for a situation coming ‘out of left field’; again, a baseball term. If we can be more prepared and ready for when a curve ball is thrown our way, we will be more successful as a person, a professional, and a business.
This blogpost was jointly written by
Baseball and sports marketing expert Riley Wancket
Author, Speaker, Business Brain Booster,
Hazel Wagner, PhD, MBA, BBB
When you hear someone say something with which you disagree, instead of immediately giving your opinion, start asking questions.Help me understand how you reached that conclusion?Where have you seen this happen?What resources did you use? Could there be any other viewpoint we could look at?Could there be some examples from other industries, countries, or cultures?How can I learn more about this topic?Are there some authors who write about this topic?Who are they?
What or where can we explore to understand more about this topic?
Sometimes a topic or opinion is not that important or doesn’t seem to have enough depth to explore.Even then questioning may also lead to great new insights and important related topics.
If it is important enough to have disparate opinions maybe it is important enough to explore through a mind map.
The late Tony Buzan called mind maps the Swiss Army knife for your brain
Mind maps turn ideas and thinking into a colorful diagram. It is a way to transfer your thoughts to paper (or your screen) and then imprint it more visually and permanently to your memory.
You can use mind mapping for organizing, presenting, explaining, planning, learning, negotiating, taking notes, and making notes.
All you need is a piece of paper turned horizontally and some pens or pencils, preferably, but not required, in several colors. The different colors make the process more fun and the resulting drawing more memorable.
Improve your critical and creative thinking using mind maps
Slow down your thought process a bit by creating clarity instead of speed.Analyze options including pros and cons.View and share the options considered.Explore alternatives on paper or your computer screen in one visual that you add to, change, cross out as you go.Mind maps are easy to follow, easy to review, and easy to use as an explanation.
Questions are a sign of intelligence and also of interest, curiosity , and caring about the other person and topic. So don’t hold back.
Then listen to the answers, listen intently, listen to understand, listen for the meaning. Be careful that your questions are sincere rather than a way for you to introduce what you have to say. As Stephen Covey said, “seek to understand before seeking to be understood.”
Anxiety is not intuition. Worry doesn’t make you more productive.
Planning for how you will handle situations gets you ready for whatever will come. Worrying only focuses on what might or might not happen if you don’t plan.
Take out a plain piece of paper and a marker or pencil. In the center write your goal or problem to solve. Circle it. Draw branches out from the circle, each with a topic to think through. Make extra notes using smaller branches for each of the topics. Only use single words or short phrases.
What you drew is a mind map. The process you went though on paper helps your brain explore and investigate ideas such as how to solve a particular problem. Try mind mapping the next time you are grappling with a problem.
This is my TedX talk about mind mapping with nearly a million views:
Share something you have learned in your life as a gift of curiosity and knowledge.
It will be a gift to yourself at the same time as to the other person.
When you share a lesson you learned, and this can be a practical,
how-to-do or something you realized not to do, they learn from your experience.
At the same time time, your learning gets deeper as you figure out how to explain and create understanding without the direct experience.
This not about ‘shoulds’, as you tell the story about how you learned. Bring the other person into your thought process, your curiosity, your hard lesson, if necessary. Let them visualize what it would have been like if they were there with you or instead of you.
Stories are memorable. Stories give the listener the chance to decide.
We all mix them up. Imagine for a moment you’re looking to buy a new car. What do you need? Something reliable, decent gas mileage, seats one, or maybe 4, what else? Do you need it to have fast acceleration? Do you need it to be a color you like, maybe even bright red? Do you need a snazzy convertible that makes you feel on top of the world?
So wants and needs get mixed up in our head.
A need is something that must be fixed, a problem that requires solving, a pain that requires fixing.
Wants are desires, preferences, attractions.
And if you can satisfy both your wants and needs at the same time, do it, and be aware of the difference and the double win.
Vision is the big, long term goal for an individual or an organization. Strategy is the “How.” How will you achieve the vision or at least keep moving solidly towards it. Mission describes the daily processes and behaviors that focus on the vision and apply the strategy.