"They say I'm crazy. But I have a good time." - Joe Walsh
Way Cool! A new release of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2012 is upon us like a rock tour. I do promise to get back to that, but the annual Autodesk Release event and the traditional end of Spring Training bring me back to consider the fundamentals.
These days I make a living helping people and organizations innovate through technology change. Call it: Standards development, software training, template and styles customization, technology implementation, or consulting - the terms change but the game is much the same. Years of practice and hard work has help me build that "learnable" skill that I call
Learn and Burn
To me "Learn" first means that you have to BOTH study things and then actually do them to truly learn and KNOW. Doing half of that job is not enough. One of my favorite expressions is:
"It's what you don't know, that kills you."
Study alone often leads to an illusion of knowledge. It is True (with a capital T) that no one can ever keep up. There is (and always was) too much to know.
However, giving up on the hunting, gathering, and reflection for only the practice of the skill alone (because the learning task is impossible) is not acceptable either.
Those personal issues of hubris and humility remain a reminder that reaping without sowing is most often doomed to sudden failure. The world is full of "experts" who study and talk but know not what they do.
Call me old school, but saying what you do and doing what you say are inseparable to me. This is much simpler (and at times much more painful) than we want it to be. It is a matter of choice. Some chose differently. That is on their heads.
Doing by itself leads to yet another common illusion of knowledge. Doing only gets you your small part of the bigger SYSTEM picture. Doing requires that you focus. Mental and physical focus develops strong patterns in both your mind and in your body. That is productive so long as the whole SYSTEM is in place. Go ahead - Try and sign your name with your other hand. Will your bank cash your check with that signature? These days the fact that they probably will do it anyway might be a cause of some concern to you.
The Burn is Necessary
What you KNOW and DO eventually becomes useless and gets in the way. I grew up next to a National Forest in a house that was built in a place where almost every house will burn down every 30-40 years or so. The event happened in less than an afternoon many years ago after I'd grown up, married, and moved on. I went back a week later to see. The firestorm reduced both trees and my old house to nothing but inches of ash. Today, you can't tell it happened unless you knew what to look for.
When you lose that lightening first step you have to find another way to score or you sit on the bench. Eventually, all of us have to find another game and/or a whole new role to play. This has always been True. This is the difference between Life and Death.
There is no mystery here nor is our march into the future cruel, unfair, or depressing. We get to keep choosing. That is the kindest form of grace, hope, and love that I can I can conceive of.
Change process requires that I "Learn or Burn" a vast amount of complex interrelated and detailed information at a sometimes terrifying rate. Being continually overwhelmed is a normal state and not an exception to the rule. Choosing in this doubtful and mindful chaos is Life. I'm well-suited to this work and I like the complex challenge it presents.
Some fans say this ability to "Learn and Burn" makes me special. I don't really believe that. That's what gets me up in the morning fighting for More. I was educated and well-trained to do "Learn and Burn". Many people are not and/or believe these skills are something mysterious and un-learnable when they are not. From my perspective, the whole Change thing this is something that I truly believe most people are far more adept at than popular thinking allows.
I call this
The Myth of Future Shock
I do enjoy Toffler, but I never did buy his politically based contention that the rate of change today is a whole new problem unseen before our time. God made us able to handle and chose well in life. We don't always do that and the unexpected circumstance of that is painted all over history as far back as we can see. Avoiding choice is obviously no answer to a problem either.
Change is not Hard...It is.
To make Change work successfully you have to couple "Learn and Burn" with a strong dose of People Skills. That reality took me way too long to learn. I usually sum up People Skills with the personal question,
"I know other people think differently than me. Do I behave as if they do?"
"Overcome" is my operative word. To me "Overcome" means - Get out of my own way.
I know my own perception and expectation about reality is often a More significant problem to me than reality itself. I need the contribution of thinking of others who are also willing to Learn and Burn.
The Practical and Political Matters
Useful Compromise between people should be not about manipulating the perceptions and expectation others to get our way. It's about getting the honest contribution of their thinking to produce a better common and useful result.
Today I know some because I actively and willfully Learn and Burn. We may know a lot More tomorrow if we all do.