Sunday, June 20, 2010

Knowing

What I have learned or read doesn't always make a smooth transition into what I do. Even when I understand something intellectually, applying that understanding sometimes takes effort. I'm thinking about this because of a conversation I had a few days ago. The other person was agreeing with me, and then saying something completely different. I got nods and verbal statements like "Right" and "I agree." Then the next thing I heard sounded like the opposite of what I had said. And I honestly believe that this person thought we were in agreement.

I was frustrated. I ended the conversation for the time and resolved to figure out a better way to explain or demonstrate what I was thinking before we talked again. The next day, it struck me. I already know very specific and valuable communication tools that would have been ideal for that exact situation. Why didn't I use them? Was I too bowled over with disbelief that someone would say "I agree" and then disagree? I don't subscribe to the notion that on some level I didn't really want to be heard, and I'm certainly capable. I simply didn't apply what I knew in that situation.

Something very similar happened yesterday when I was introduced to someone. When asked what I do, it didn't even occur to me in that moment to say the well-rehearsed elevator pitch I've been honing. What I said may have been good enough to get the point across, but the bold and succinct elevator pitch was really perfect for that situation. Why didn't it just roll off my tongue? Why did my brain search for something to say instead of just recalling that planned response to a clear, direct question?

My best guess is practice. Knowing what to say really doesn't have a lot of practical value until I open my mouth and say it. Same thing with recognizing the solution to a challenge. It may be nice to have the tools, but what actually makes a difference is using those tools. If that isn't second nature yet, I think that means I get to practice letting what I know inform my behavior. I suppose that's what a creative life is all about... finding effective ways to get ideas from my head into reality. And trusting myself to know how to do it.

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