Have you ever watched a YouTube video or read a Pinterest article on how to make something and then attempted it with utter failure? I started experimenting with woodworking a couple years ago after retiring from the Air Force and my first couple projects are…well, laughable. I read the instructions, watched the videos, carefully planned out the steps, and still fell short. Why? This is the difference between training and education.
Education: Education is learning the theory or steps of how something works. It is reading a book on how something works or on how to do something. However, it doesn’t make you qualified to do the task. Education is the foundational step where you learn the theory or the ‘why’ behind the subject. After reading several books on the topic, I can understand the Python coding syntax. However, when I first started experimenting with my own projects, I couldn’t get the code to work. Education doesn’t equal qualification.
Training: Training is the hands-on experience of doing something. This is where you learn by doing. You get on the bike and start peddling. At first you fall, then you keep trying and working at it until you get it. Eventually, you have the mechanics down and go on long bike rides without ever thinking about how well you are balancing. You know how to do something, but you can’t explain how it works…it just does.
The real value is found when you learn how to merge education and training. When you train and educate yourself in a continuous loop, you become an expert at what you are doing much faster. I watch as my kids do this quite well. My son will play Minecraft and then watch videos on how to solve a problem he ran into during the game. My daughter makes stop motion videos and then researches new ways to make them better. In both cases, there is visible improvement after they complete this cycle of try, analyze results, learn.
We all have seen the movies or shows where the book smart person and the street smart person team up. Our goal needs to be to become both people and it is not difficult. In fact, things are much more enjoyable when you marry the two. How?
Just Start: The best way to do something is to try it. If you want to play chess, go to chess.com and start playing. Don’t wait until you “feel ready” because we all know how that works. The only caveat to this is if it is safety related…if that is the case, get a qualified coach to guide you.
Fight the Fear: “But, I will look silly!” Very true, you might feel silly, but all new endeavors start off this way. Good thing we don’t learn to walk as adults, because we would never do it. We would be too worried about what others thought every time we stumbled. It is ok to fail and it is ok to not be good at something right away.
You Failed!: Going back to the chess example. When you play a game, you can go back and see what you did well and where you blundered. Here is where you can learn why you succeeded or failed and get educated. Take a lesson and learn the theory behind it. Read a book. Hire a coach. Whatever it takes to learn.
Short Feedback Loops: The real key to all of this is to try, fail/succeed, and learn why many times. Over analyzing creates analysis-paralysis and you get stuck in the education part of the loop. Trying over-and-over without learning why you failed or succeeded is Einstein’s definition of insanity. Therefore, get in there and try. Then immediately record the results and then seek knowledge on how to repeat the success or how to fix a fail.
Bottom line is that to learn something new or to get better at anything you have to:
Try, Analyze Results, Learn — Repeat