Teach A Man (Or, A Woman…) To Fish….

Written by mitch on. Posted in Uncategorized

I wrote this for my other blog and finished it just a few minutes ago. After reading it through a second time I kind of think it belongs here to…  So, here it is.

I love to teach…

Well, that’s not actually one hundred percent accurate. What I really love is to help people. And, the way I do that, and have done it in the past, is by sharing what I know and what I have learned over the years.

I do it at the service counter with our clients every day. Or, at least I try to.

I do it through the columns I contribute to the magazines I write for and through the books I’ve written… Or, at least I try to.

I do it in seminar work I’ve done and the keynotes I’ve delivered… And, yes, you guessed it: Or, at least I try to.

And, I’ve done it with just about everyone that’s ever worked here. In fact, I don’t think there is anyone who has ever worked here for either my father or myself who hasn’t learned something: something about themselves, or something about their profession while in our care and custody.

Sharing what you’ve learned and what you know is powerful. The exchange that takes places changes both the teacher and the student for ever in profound and powerful ways neither is likely to understand. At least, not while it’s happening. But, the foundation for those changes is poured when the first gift of knowledge is offered.

It’s fascinating, really. One moment your content with everything you know. And, the next you are confronted with something new: something that can and will change you forever.

Why? How?

Because, no matter how hard you try or how much you resist, you really can’t isolate yourself from experience or ideas if or when they are properly, or effectively, or dramatically, or passionately, presented. You can disagree. You can try to ignore what you have been exposed to. You can fight to remain static: unmoved. But, even the act of any of those actions (or,non-actions) is a direct result of the new knowledge you have gained.

The more ‘new things’ you’ve tried, the more experiences you’ve had, and the more mistakes you’ve made: the more you have to offer those around you. When you’ve been as successful as I have at any or all of the above, you have a lot to offer! And, offer it you must…

That’s what we’re doing right now at the shop. We’re sharing what we – all of us – have learned over the years with two young entry-level people and it’s more fun and more rewarding than ought to be legal. What makes it even better is the raw energy and enthusiasm they bring to the workplace – the curiosity and the questions – the constant attention they require – and the thought and consideration that has to go into every response.

Teaching makes the teacher(s) sharper: better, in almost every way, just for that reason… If you care.
When a new-hire asks you what you’re doing or why you’re doing it a certain way, you are forced to you to look at everything you do with a critical eye.

Why do we do this? Because, that’s the way we’ve always done it?

Why do we do it this way and not that? Do we recognize the choices available to us, or are we lost in the subtle sameness and comfort of the familiar?

When asked about hiring practices an old friend would simply say: “Hire for attitude. Train for ability. You can train someone to deliver great customer service – But, you can’t train them to want to!”

That kind of says it all, doesn’t it.

Well, the two people we’re working with are filled with attitude. Not the kind of edgy, in-your-face attitude that you see on the street or in the movies: the kind that makes you want to show up early so you don’t miss anything! And, that kind of enthusiasm and attitude is contagious. It filled the shop today and had just about everyone smiling. I can’t say that it will last. Or, how long everyone will be riding this ‘high.’ But, I can promise we’ll do everything we can to keep it going because it just plain feels like the right thing to do!

It feels great to share that knowledge – and, in our shop that knowledge totals well over a hundred years! And, it feels better to watch the changes that are taking place: the changes I spoke about earlier, transform these kids.

It’s the ultimate: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime!”

We’re teaching a couple of young kids just starting out how to fish: we’re teaching them how to fish smart, how to fish efficiently and how to fish intelligently. And, in the process, we are becoming better fishermen ourselves.

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I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

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