If You Can Read About It – You Can Read

After reading all the books on swimming, watching Micheal Phelps videos, and attending all the lectures on swimming little Dexter was ready to take the plunge.
After reading all the books on swimming, watching Micheal Phelps videos, and attending all the lectures on swimming little Dexter was ready to take the plunge.

Daily Prompt; Teachable Moment – You have to learn a new skill. Do you prefer to read about it, watch someone else do it, hear someone describe it, or try it yourself?

I’m not so certain we were ever created to read instructions and from that reading pick up a whole new set of skills.

To illustrate; a man invents an appliance that requires assembly or new process in a large corporation. To pass this knowledge on it must be written. He is likely an engineer. Engineers are nearly illiterate and have a hard time understanding a menu. Engineers say, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

If ever you want to confuse the public or the enemy choose an engineer as your communications officer or spokesman.

Engineers turn the task of writing instructions to technical writers. These are guys who have a finger missing from messing around with their dad‘s miter saw. They never had a girlfriend in high school. The only female they danced with was an aunt. Before leaving college the conclusion of their career counselor was, “After exploring all possible options have you ever considered being a technical writer? It requires no particular knowledge or skills. You don’t even have to write well.” By the time they have raised a family they are still not sure which way to turn a screw, change their oil, or replace the batteries in their smoke alarm.

I’ve trained people who say, “Can you show me how you do it and as soon as I get the hang of it I’ll step in. In the meantime, I got to make a phone call.” People who like to watch are people who like being entertained. They’re like the guy who watches Gene Kelly dance and says, “Wow! I’d like to learn to dance like that… You mean he wasn‘t born that way. You actually have to work and develop skills.”

I suppose there are things you can just hear about and think you might be able to do it, but I don’t want a surgeon working on me who says, “This is my first surgery. I was the only one in my class to attend all the lectures. Some of the other surgeons assisted other surgeons, but they can‘t say what I can say. I never missed a lecture.”

I can read how to swim. I can watch somebody swim. I can listen to somebody tell me how to swim. But the bottom line is I got to kick and splash before I can really swim. The best way to learn is just dive in.



  1. You are hilarious. I love your analogies and perspectives. When I add this, though, it is not to trump the validity of your argument (I don’t want an inexperienced knife cutting into me either): I have actually acquired a lot reading, but I consider it in a mental capacity more than a craft or kinetic skill. That knowledge has then spurred me on to take action and supplement the learning I acquired, which first began as head knowledge. This is why I love blogs, I read blogs and why I blog in the first place. It keeps the conversation going.

Blather away, if you like.

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