Lessons Learned

lessons learnedDo you ever think back to some lessons learned from unexpected sources?

Have you ever reread a book you’ve had on your bookshelf for some time–a business book that was once “HOT!” but is now seen by many as  passé? We you able to find new nuggets in one or more that helped you even years later?

I reread a book recently that was written in 2002 (Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott). Practically the dark ages, right? But like fine wine, it’s aged very well.

What changed for me, though, was how much I realized that the stories Susan Scott used helped me really understand the wonderful advice in the book. And my clarity on that comes from a good friend — Sarah Elkins — who reminds us that stories are what we hunger for. Figures, facts, and information are all good, but we relate to and remember the stories.

A few years ago, I used something I learned in the book; I asked a friend why she thought a class hadn’t gone well, and she answered, “Oh, I don’t know.”

We’ve all said that — right? — often because we haven’t thought it through. And then we move on to other things but get no answer.

So I asked her (with a smile): “What if you did know?” She thought for a moment and then surprised us both with a great answer, one we might not have known if I hadn’t asked that simple question.

Later, when we discussed it, we both realized that “I don’t know” gets us nowhere. It stops our brain from thinking. We move on, but we don’t learn.

“What if you did know?” has become my favorite way to explore possibilities without sounding like a schoolmarm or a nag. The words don’t sound accusatory, so we both can take a few moments to reflect.

Sometimes it really is that simple.