The TRUTH About Learning New Skills | The Covert Closer Blog by Justin Weeder
Aug 08, 2019
In school, I was always told how smart I was, and it was always coupled with 'but...' in reference to my grade performance.
...You're bright, but you don't do your homework.
...You're smart, but you're wasting your potential.
...You can be doing so much better, but you aren't focused.
I ended up graduating high school with a 1.9 GPA and was denied at the 3 colleges I applied to (obviously).
Looking back, I'm sure my teachers were perplexed as to why I wasn't doing better.
Trust me, I was just as confused. At first, I wanted to do well in school, because everyone kept telling me how smart I was.
I didn't feel smart though. Learning was hard. It was frustrating. I felt behind all the time. The efforts I put in to study didn't seem to be working. I was exhausted. I checked out. I slept in class. I actually failed every class I had in my second semester of junior year.
It wasn't because I didn't want to do better.
It wasn't because I was lazy.
It wasn't because I had a low IQ.
It wasn't because I was skipping school.
It was because I didn't know how to learn.
I didn't know what it took to learn something and apply that knowledge.
Somewhere along the way, I missed the day at school where they teach you how to take in information and retain it.
So I did what most smart kids do, I coasted. I coasted my way through school, through life, never really applying myself to anything if it got too hard. Except the thing about coasting is nobody ever 'coasts' to the good life. (If it seems like they have, they've done a good job of fooling you - a solid sprezzatura).
The good life takes hard work. It takes reflection and self-development. And it takes learning combined with skill development.
When was the last time you read a book and then re-read it?
How many sales books do you have on your bookshelf that you've read but couldn't relay one nugget from it without checking?
How many sales books have you read that changed your game for the better?
Those of you who have done the hard work to really learn something and make it a part of you know what I'm talking about.
This is how it actually works...
In medieval Europe, young men were encouraged to pick a trade and become an apprentice. A popular choice was blacksmithing. Picture this:
You're a 14-year-old kid (maybe even younger) and after a brief crash course from your master, you're handed a hammer and a heated raw piece of steel and told to hammer it into something useful. You strike the steel for the first time and the hammer reverberates through your fingers, up through your wrist, your forearm, and your shoulder. It hurts!
You reel back from the pain, wondering what the hell you've gotten yourself into. What's worse, the metal is starting to cool down and you've only hit it once!
Your whole arm is on fire now. The pain is insufferable. But you have to keep hitting it because your master is standing over you making sure of it. You hit that piece of steel until you can't pick your arm up from your side anymore. Your master takes the hammer from you and does his best to cover up your amateur mistakes and not waste this precious material.
Resources are scarce, but you have to learn somehow. The next day? You're back at it. Hammering, feeling the hammer abuse your body in ways you never thought possible. This continues for 7 or 8 years! But it becomes easier and easier every time.
Then something changes... You're not sure when, but you notice it once it has.
You notice that you don't feel the hammer anymore. Your body has adjusted, your muscles have grown, and your skill has improved.
And when you don't feel the hammer anymore, what do you feel when you swing it down on that hot metal?
You feel the steel. The object you're shaping. It responds to your touch and you are able to shape it as if the hammer were a part of your own body.
You've hit it so many times it's as if the hammer becomes an extension of yourself when you pick it up.
This works for all artists and craftsman.
The artists brush becomes a part of his hand...
The swordsman's blade becomes an extension of his arm...
The mason's trowel becomes an extension of his hand...
The violinist's bow becomes an extension of her arm and her violin an extension of her shoulder...
The guitarists pick and strings become an extension of his fingers...
They are able to feel the medium they're working with through their tools.
This is learning. It's pushing yourself through the initial pain and struggle of creating something that doesn't even closely resemble the result you're aiming for. Wasting materials in the process. You can't even begin to create something that looks like what your master can create with the exact same tools.
So what do we do? We assume something is wrong with us or something is special about them. It's not though. We're all made of the same stardust. Why does this matter? Because if you can set aside your knowledge of what 'good' looks like and instead consider the value you're hoping to gain from learning this new skill... you'll realize that you have to give up something to get something.
The value you're looking to earn from this skill is in direct proportion to the amount of pain you're willing to go through until... You begin to 'feel the steel'. Nobody learned how to forge a weapon by reading a book. The book is a good introduction to new skills, but you need to endure the pain of the hammer before you can say the knowledge has helped you in any way. I believe that 'a master' or 'a mentor' or a 'a coach' is instrumental in helping you feel the steel in your sales life.
Unfortunately, today's organizations are investing less and less into the development of their salespeople. And that's a shame. Because it harms the salespeople, the customers, the company, and the economy. Nothing happens without you, the salesperson. You need to be able to predict your outcomes within a reasonable amount and feel confident feeling the steel of your customers' problems and your company's ability to solve them through your product or service.
If every call seems like you're only feeling the hammer and you can't seem to produce the results you want, reach out to me.
I'd love to help you come up with a solid plan to 'feel the steel' in your sales career.
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