Beginnings are a curious thing. Take your first job out of college. Was it something that put you on a clear path to productivity and achievement? Or was it a real downer that set you back in some ways? I imagine that someone fresh out of college that gets to work for such luminaries as IBM or Proctor & Gamble or Federal Express is probably blessed with a good start to their career path.
I was fortunate. My first job out of college found me working for someone who, at the time, was a relative unknown in the business world, and his small, fledgling, consulting firm consisted of about a dozen individuals of varying degrees of know-how. Yet that someone was busy writing a book which, when published a few short years after I got there, became one of the best-selling business books of all time. The book was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and its author, Stephen R. Covey.
I had targeted his firm, Stephen R. Covey & Associates, as my employer of choice during my senior year at the university. And I was relentless in my efforts to get hired upon graduation. My efforts paid off. I landed a job in their new call center as a telemarketing rep at $3.50/hour plus commission. And I took the job gladly, unaware that commissions were part of the deal.
One thing I learned from Covey, whom I got to know somewhat while there, was that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. He taught, both publicly and privately, that if you put yourself in a situation where you have to teach something, you will learn it by default. You have to. The pressure of knowing you will soon be before an audience will be enough to get you to structure your life in such a way that you will pay the price to get yourself where you need to be in order to deliver. Although Covey’s advice were mere words to me at the time, as I had no direct experience with what he was saying, I accepted them as valid. I have since come to know first-hand that the man was precisely correct. Here is a case-in-point:
After having attended numerous seminars and workshops by internet marketing experts on how to do eCommerce, I have consistently walked away frustrated at the lack of precision in the instruction given. I have watched one expert after another deliver hours of instruction, and yet be entirely incapable of doing more than offer platitudes, vague generalities, or plenty of self-promotion – but never demonstrate, step-by-step how to do the things they were espousing.
So I put myself in a situation where I will be delivering a full-day seminar this coming Saturday (March 26th) to close to 100 business women, on the very subject of how to launch their own on-line business. At the time that I was first booked to deliver this seminar, I was entirely ill-equipped to speak on these subjects.
Preparing for this seminar has been stressful. It has been a lot of work. It has been eye-opening. But I will be prepared to knock their socks off come Saturday. It will change many of them. And it has changed me.
You want to master something? Do what Covey told me to do: put yourself on the line; put yourself in a situation where you have to teach it. Trust me. You’ll find a way to rise to the occasion.