Old Dog, New Tricks

A year ago, I welcomed a four-year-old (32 in human years) untrained Yorkshire Terrier into our family. It has not been the smoothest transition, but we have made great strides. There is an adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn’t hold up well if the old dog wants to learn.

Growth is possible for everyone, no matter their age. We cannot define people by their past, and their history is not always a predictor of their future. We must let go of unrealistic expectations, which isn’t easy to do. I have gone from my home smelling like potpourri throughout, to the smell of dog urine in unexpected places. Yet, I am appreciative of the continued progress our Yorkie makes with consistent training.

Leadership is about enabling the full potential in others regardless the age or history. In this era of longevity, making assumptions about the learning capabilities of a multi-generational workforce is a mistake. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Be realistic that it may take a little longer than a young dog. But, once that old dog learns, it’s there for the long-term.

Ongoing Learning

If you’re not learning, you’re standing still. But how do we get feedback on what we’re learning? And how do we go about learning new subjects and identifying gaps in our existing knowledge?

Often, we don’t realize we lack an understanding of something until it’s too late. We tend to focus on knowing the name of something versus actually knowing something.

The Feynman Technique is a 4-step process for learning that you can use to understand just about anything.

Step 1: Helps you embrace what you don’t know, it requires you to be specific, and you have to start small (a page or two).

Step 2: Makes it harder for you to trick yourself and others, as well as helps you build confidence.

Step 3: Learning becomes an iterative process, you’re actively engaged, and you expand your knowledge base.

Step 4: Simplicity provides greater understanding, and using analogies makes it easier to recall and explain.

Reference: Ambition and Balance

Knowledge

Knowledge builds self-confidence and is the key to cracking life’s code. The more you learn, the more options you have in life.

Even if you never expand your formal education, there are opportunities to learn all around you.

There isn’t a day that goes by that you should not have learned at least one new thing, regardless of how insignificant it may seem.

When you reject learning, years of schooling will teach you little.

If you want to be enlightened, there is no end to what you can learn.

For knowledge to have real significance in your life, you must do something with what you’ve learned – teach others.

Holding on to knowledge for dear life defeats the purpose of why you learned something in the first place. Whether it’s teaching a child right from wrong or showing someone how to perform a specific task, you have a great gift that doesn’t cost you anything to share.