Understanding before discovering? Impossible!

In Change, Creativity, Insight

I was listening to a friend talk last night and had a great insight (for me!) and thought I’d share.

You know we often tell people useful stuff and never really ‘get it’ or pay attention to what we say ourselves? Well one of the things I frequently tell people is that ‘we never understand anything until we’ve discovered it’ (I used it again today with a client!).  So many people try and understand something before they’ve discovered it, and the question usually begins with ‘how do I…?’ And, for example,  they go on a training in the hope of understanding the thing they want to achieve before discovering it and wonder why they don’t ‘get it’ and so go on another training, then another…well you get the idea.

For example, I can explain the theory of skiing, but only until you put on a pair of skis and start sliding on snow then it’s only then do you discover the experience of skiing and then start to understand it – which is nothing like you can imagine before you put the skis on.  And it’s the same in business and when developing products and services.  You can do all the theory of business – like studying for an MBA, or learn about accounts, or sales, or marketing, or designing a product or service – but only when you put that out in to the world and ‘do business’ then you discover business and start to really understand it

For me, my insight was how I’ve done the understand after discovery process in all my ventures over the years and not realised it!  And I thought that was the wrong way round, until my insight, and it’s actually worked out very well:  I’ve pretty much always started my understanding by doing – say when changing work areas – and then doing the training when I had some experience and was better informed about what I need to do to learn more.

Remember, it only works one way: we do, we discover, and then we understand.


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