Who do you go to for information? These days we often dive into the ‘web’ for information, and I’m guessing you also have people who you seek out for their knowledge and expertise. Long ago my family taught me about this in some interesting and amusing ways.
First let me tell you how I learned to bake bread. My paternal Grandmother, Dossie, was a cook—like ran a lunch room, catered meals for 100+ by herself cook. And she baked, wow did she bake: rolls, cinnamon buns, bread… everything! In my 20s I started to learn to bake, and it does require finesse and practice. The interesting thing was how she tutored me in this. She couldn’t really explain what to do. She’d say things like “you knead the dough until it feels right.” Huh? What she could to was diagnose a problem in seconds, even over the phone. So that’s how I learned the art form of baking from her. I’d call and tell her how the loaf looked, and she’d tell me I didn’t let it rise long enough, or I didn’t have enough yeast in it, or a myriad of other tips. She was a very reliable source for baking knowledge, and I got to be a pretty good baker. (As a sad little aside, I have had to mostly give up baking, at least for myself—gluten and yeast are no longer my friends.)
Even earlier when I was in Junior High School—which you may think of as “Middle School”—there was another resource lesson. Actually it was several lessons in one event. My dad was the kinda guy that wanted you to think, and have a good reason for what ever you did, or asked for. We had this Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia. It was many very small books. One day I came to him and told him that we needed a new encyclopedia. “Why would that be?” he asked. “Well, it’s because I have to do this report on WWII for my Social Studies class and our encyclopedia was published in 1937,” I responded. A new encyclopedia was purchased right away. I needed a better source, and he readily agreed!
What I took away from both of these early examples—and other life experiences—was that you really need to be careful who you go to for information. It’s not that people don’t have opinions on a variety of things—they do. But do they have expertise, a base of knowledge about the subject, or wisdom in that area?
I think we get ourselves in trouble when we ask well-meaning folks who don’t actually have expertise in the topic about things. For example, we tend to ask colleagues about how to attract clients. I’ve seen it within the coaching community for years. It’s not that talking with colleagues about your business is all bad… but how about talking with the people who you actually want as clients instead? Finding out what they want? Oh and finding a sales and marketing expert to help you attract those people?
When it came time to upgrade my website I worked with Jerry Fletcher, Brand Poobah and he started with having me gather data about my clients, and then I had conversations with the clients I really worked well with about what brought them to me. I needed to know what the clients wanted and needed in order to hire me. And I needed someone to help me give them that.
I know what I do well and where I need help. And when I need help, I look for someone who is a reliable, deep source in that area I don’t know about. We all have different talents and knowledge. I don’t need to know everything, what I do need to know is how to find and expert and when to ask for help. It saves me bunches of time and money, and also helps me learn about new things.
Where might an expert help you do better?
Shell Tain, the Untangler
Let me know if I can either be a source or help you find one. Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.