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  May 24, 2013
Life’s Little Instruction Book...

 

 

I was cleaning my office the other day when I discovered a set of books that someone had once given to me as a present. 

The books were entitled, Life’s Little Instruction Book", volumes 1-3 written by an author named H. Jackson Brown. Inside his books were mostly practical little tips to living a rich and fulfilling life such as:

"Always do the right thing, regardless of what other people think."

"Never deprive people of hope... it might be all they have."

"Every day always look for a way to improve your marriage."

"Get a flu shot each year."

"Never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink."

"Always over-tip breakfast waitresses."

Mr. Brown presented the original 511 little tidbits as a going away present to his son Adam as he left home to attend college.  Later he wrote two additional volumes as he thought of them.

I enjoyed reading the first 20 pages or so (about 100 little instructions in all)... and then my mind began to wander a bit...

First I began thinking about Mr. Brown and his son Adam...

Here was a young man who was leaving home to go off to college to live on his own for the first time. No longer will he have the benefit of mom and dad looking after him... soon he will be doing his own laundry, buying his own groceries, paying his own electric bill.

The thing that I found most interesting was that, it wasn’t until his departure from the home, that dad decided to give him a complete instruction guide on how to live a better life...

The part that intrigues me was that dad never thought to impart any of this wisdom in the prior 18 or so years his son lived under his own roof...

You would think that mom and dad might have had a house rule that said in essence... if you dirty a dish... wash it and put it away...

...or if they went out to eat breakfast one day... dad would over tip the waitress (er um... food server) and point out to his son that just because a breakfast is not as expensive as dinner, it doesn’t mean that the servers don’t work their tails off endlessly refilling coffee and making sure the food arrives hot to the table... so they should be rewarded for the extra effort.

These would have been great teaching moments in a young boy’s life... in bite size portions so it could be digested and remembered...

Children never stop learning from their parents (even after they leave the nest)... they learn from watching their parents actions... they learn from listening to their parents words... they learn from watching their parents mistakes...   

The second thought that came to my mind was that although these tips are well-meant... no one ever learned to live life by reading about it in a book (or a weekly blog for that matter)...

Some things are meant to be learned by doing rather than by just reading or thinking about it...

I suspect that outside of a very small minority, practically everyone learned to ride a bicycle by actually getting on a bike and start riding it... usually with mom or dad running behind the bike... holding it upright as the child peddled along...

Soon mom or dad let go and the child started riding on their own... oh and yes... they usually crashed several times before mastering the bike riding skill... but learning valuable lessons along the way by actually doing... not thinking about doing...

The same could be said about learning to swim... or learning to cook... learning a second language... or learning to play a musical instrument...

Learning takes place by doing... not by thinking about doing... not reading a book about doing... not listening to CDs or going to seminars about doing...

You learn by trying to do something... and then repeating over and over until you have mastered the skill...

This brings me to my main topic today... starting and operating a small (or large) business.

I’ve recently had several conversations with a couple of friends who are considering joining the ranks of the entrepreneur. These are not new conversations mind you... in fact these are the SAME conversations that I was having with them 3-5 years ago...

In the time since... my friends have spent their time reading business books... doing market research... evaluating accounting software... designing logos... and coming up with catchy names...

They have also spent their time talking with other business people in order to get a sense of what it takes to run a successful business.

They have done everything that they believe is important to running a business... except of course... actually running a business...

When I confronted them with the fact that they have been all talk and no action... I received the response "well... I just want to learn all I can to help avoid making big mistakes."

With that I gave them a pearl of wisdom that was once imparted upon me when I first began life as an entrepreneur...

...the only real way to avoid big mistakes and make better decisions was having experience... and the only real way to gain experience was to make a lot of decisions and make a lot of little mistakes...

This doesn’t mean one needs to experience drowning in order to learn how to swim... but it does mean that one should perhaps first learn to swim in the shallow end of the pool before venturing out to the open sea...

Once a certain level of proficiency is reached... then and only then should one try to enhance their skills by learning new techniques and skills... exploring new ideas... reading books... employing mentors and coaches... and/or taking classes.

There is no substitute for experience and hard work.  There is no substitute for doing.  

You can’t learn to live a full and enriched life by reading about it in a book... life comes from living and doing...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse, where we believe that doing always trumps thinking about doing.

 

Jim Kalb
President

Email - jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com

Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com

Twitter - @OptiFuse


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