THREE LIFE'S LESSONS
TO LEARNING

Copyright 2000 by Cordell Vail

Lesson #1: Why is there never time to do it right the first time but always time to do it over?

Lesson #2: Being too busy is not an excuse for not being able to learn something.

Lesson #3: Attention to detail will save you a great deal of time, frustration and money and help you learn HOW TO DO THINGS RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

Because my occupation is computers, I am asked often how to do this or that on the computer. I especially get a lot of questions about using email and the Internet. I know that things that seem simple to me ARE NOT SIMPLE FOR OTHERS.

A few days ago I had a friend call me in anger and tell me that she had spent a whole hour in YAHOO email trying to create a new folder and finally gave up in frustration, not having accomplished the goal. As I talked to her, it dawned on me that others might gain from her experience if I would share it with you here in the FREE REPORT LIBRARY. Because so many people are also frustrated trying to learn how to do something on their computer, I would like to share her real life experience with you.

Her experience may not exactly fit your situation, but I assume if you will read through this, you will find that you can apply the principles of my "Three Life's Lessons" in many parts of your own life.

She called and told me she had given up trying. As I listened to her on the phone she told me about her frustration. She said something to me as I listened that told me right away what she had done wrong. That was easy for me to discover her error but it was not easy for her to see it.

What she said to me that told me what she was doing wrong was this. She said, "I went to the folder page, typed my new folder name in the box, but the name of the folder that was already in the box just kept coming up again instead of the new name I was typing in." I knew right there that she had jumped to the conclusion that because there was a box on the page it was the right one. I knew she had not taken the time to notice that there were actually two boxes. One box is to display already existing folders (which she was using) and a second box to enter the names of new folders (which she had not noticed).

The fact she got an error should have told her something was wrong instead of making her mad….. That would have been the time to apply my "Three Life's Lessons To Learning" to their full extent. If she would have stepped back and asked herself, WHY IS IT DOING THAT, then looked for clues it would have helped her. If she would have looked at the big picture, it would have helped her solved the problem. But she became frustrated, claimed she was too busy to take the time to learn how to do this and quit. Therefore, instead of accomplishing her goal, she wasted an hour and now she has to go back and do it again later anyway.

If I could replay this scenario for you, I think it will help you to see what she was doing that caused her to fail and hopefully you will be able to apply this to some of the same type situations in your life. I would not be surprised if you wrote to me and told me you had had this exact same kind of experience yourself.

First it is important for you to understand the mind set that she started the projuct with. MIND SET. That is a key element here. Bear with me.

She had already asked me earlier if I would make the folder for her. I TOLD HER NO! I asked her to learn to do it herself. I tole her would help her if she could not do it alone. She was frustrated that I had asked her to make the folder when she knew she could just call me and ask me to do it, and I could do it FOR HER in 30 seconds but it would take her an hour or more.

She knew she was going to have to figure it out herself, which she assumed may take her hours and hours judging from past experiences from working with computers. She was irritated because she knew she had 100 other things she had to do that were more pressing. She was determined to show me that she could do it anyway, even if she was too busy, because I had asked her to try rather than just ask me to do it for her but that made her angry. That was the mind set she started the project with.

Here is what I assumed happened.

She went to the YAHOO folders file and saw that there was a box with file names in it. She also just scanned around on the page with her eyes looking for key words, rather than to actually read each sentence, because she was in a hurry to get it done. She noticed words but not sentences. She saw the words like, "NEW FOLDER" and "MOVE" and "EMAIL", but did not really connect them. New folders is what she wanted to do and it said that word, so you must be able to use this page to do it. She used the excuse of "TOO BUSY" to allow her to just jump to a conclusion and start to work.

She saw a box that had the names of folders in it so she put the cursor in that box and typed the new name, then hit ENTER. The name in the box just repeated the name that was already in the box again instead of replacing it with the one she had tried to add. When she told me that on the phone, I already knew what she had done wrong. SHE JUMPED TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE BOX WITH FOLDER NAMES WAS THE PLACE YOU ADD NEW NAMES. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS IS A KEY PHRASE HERE. Jumping to conclusions will do more to confuse your learning process than about anything else you can do. It appears to help you save time by not having to read the directions, but causes you to make mistakes. BIG MISTAKES.

Because it did not work as she expected it to, she became upset or exasperated and tried it over and over again. Ever do that? Each time she become more frustrated and more angry. When this anger builds enough, it starts to blind you. You get upset to the point that even if you did stop and read the instructions you would have a hard time following them because of the anger.

Finally she said to herself that she just did not have time for this and QUIT assuming she could ask someone to do it for her or SHOW HER HOW later. She was too busy to take time to learn it so she procrastinated the learning process until later.

That would that be my analogy of what actually happened.

Lets replay this scenario again now, but after Cordell Vail has taught her his "THREE LIFE'S LESSONS TO LEARNING"

Lesson #1: Why is there never time to do it right the first time but always time to do it over?

Lesson #2: Being too busy is not an excuse for not being able to learn something.

Lesson #3: Attention to detail will save a person a great deal of time, frustration and money and help them learn HOW TO DO THINGS RIGHT.

How do these three lessons apply to this teaching moment?

By the fact that she told herself SHE WAS TOO BUSY TO LEARN THIS before she ever started the project, she dulled the saw. She diminished her ability to learn. She was in such a rush to JUST GET IT OVER WITH that she in fact was not able to learn it at all. She was blinded by the frustration.

By the fact that that she was in SUCH A RUSH it caused her to JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS rather than pay attention to detail. That is where the frustration came from. SHE ASSUMED SHE COULD JUST SLAM BAM it and get it over with and did not take the time to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS OR LOOK OVER THE ENTIRE PAGE, justifying the behavior by "I AM TOO BUSY TO TAKE THAT MUCH TIME".

That is a key lesson here. Because she felt she was TOO BUSY she took over an hour to do what would have taken her about 15 minutes to do if she had started out with a different mind set. Stephen Covey's "SHARPEN THE SAW" theory is a very, very important lesson for us all to learn. She lost a full hour, did not accomplish the goal, and still will have to take another hour now to DO IT OVER AGAIN. If she would have taken the time to study it out, read the directions, look at the big picture, and LEARN IT RIGHT while she was right there in the situation, she would have succeeded. She would have sharpened her saw. She would have ceased the opportunity while it was at hand. She would have accomplished the goal and had a new skill rather than thinking she would just do it later.

LESSON LEARNED:
Don't be in such a hurry to get it done that you just want to figure it out, be done with it and get on to other things because. Being busy in not a valid excuse for not taking the time to learn something that is hard to learn. Procrastination does not pay.

Lets take the YAHOO example again now and I think I can show you how she could have had a totally different experience had she learned and applied my "Three Life's Lessons To Learning" in her learning process.

CREATING A LEARNING ATMOSPHERE:
First she decided to block out a little time to learn how to use YAHOO EMAIL FOLDERS knowing that if she learned it now it would be easer later. She knew she would not be frustrated over and over as she is now, when she is wanting to save her email some where besides the IN BOX. It is clear that this will save her a lot of time later. Starting the project with this learning attitude will create a LEARNING MIND SET which builds a learning environment.

FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON THE PROJECT UNTIL IT IS DONE:
She decided not to allow anything short of an emergency to interrupt here during her learning process. She knew that by taking a few minutes now, just putting everything else aside, she could learn it RIGHT. She knew that later, in the future this time spent would pay her back. Having a sharpened saw, she knows that she can cut more wood later than trying to HURRY AND JUST GET A MUCH OF IT CUT NOW AS SHE CAN.

She goes to the computer and opens up Yahoo and the phone rings. Wouldn't you know it. But she just lets it ring and does not answer it. This is learning time. They will leave a message if it is important and she can hear the message as they leave it. If it is not important they will just call back. She does not become fragmented and lose focus of her learning project. She keeps telling herself that she is not in a hurry. She is just going to relax and take time to learn this. She knows she can learn it even if she has to figure it out. She does not get up and do other things that seem more pressing.

LESSON LEARNED:
You need to create a learning atmosphere and have a positive mind set that sets the environment for learning. This will help you not jump to any conclusions that will cause you to make big mistakes.

ATTENTION TO DETAIL IS A KEY POINT IN LEARNING.
She has been practicing learning attention to detail for several months now. Whenever she watches a movie she looks for mistakes they made while making the film, for example looking for a 1960's car in a 1950's movie. When she looks at a painting she tries to look for errors the artist made, for example a wrist watch on a Shakespearean actor or the flag on a sailing ship blowing to the back of the boat, instead of to the front into the wind. Now she will use that skill of attention to detail to help her learn how to use the computer.

Once in Yahoo email, she clicks on FOLDERS

When the folders window opens, she starts by READING EVERY WORD ON THE PAGE BEFORE SHE STARTS TO WORK.

LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN

SHE READ EVERY WORD ON THE PAGE ... B - F - O - R - E ... SHE STARTED TO WORK.

She notices that there are actually TWO BOXES to put names in. That is interesting. She wonders why there are TWO boxes and not one. Attention to detail. That is the very mistake she made in the first scenario. She jumped to the conclusion because there was only one box to put names in, that it must be the NEW NAME BOX.

As she looks over the window, she notices that beside one of the boxes, there is the word "MOVE", and beside the second box at the bottom of the window it says "NEW"

Ummmmmm Analyzing..... WHY two boxes? Move, New, why two boxes?

She then re-reads every word on the page again, and it tells her that if you want to create a NEW FOLDER you use the second box at the lower part of the window. AH HAAAA…. Now that is why there are two boxes. One to move email to the folders and one to make a new name for a folders file.

She learns quickly, with a little trial and error, that if she types in the new name in the box at the bottom of the page, then hits ENTER as the directions say, it will place the new name in the folders box above. Now the new folder name appears in the MOVE NAME BOX above where she can use it.

Now she can see why she had a problem in the scenario above. She was typing the new name in the box where the old names are stored, so when she typed any letter in that box, it just jumped to the name of one of the folders already in the box.

LESSON LEARNED:
Attention to detail is critical when learning. Jumping to conclusions normally gets you into trouble and makes you make big mistakes. This is a powerful lesson to be learned in all parts of our lives as we try to learn something new that is technical. It is not the same as using your intuition to make decisions. We need to learn the difference between intuition and jumping to conclusions or acting out of impulse to try to save time.

Filled with pride for having concurred the "COMPUTER BEAST" and having created a new folder, she now looks at her watch. She is SHOCKED. Total time used? 15 MINUTES! She is thrilled. She has learned a new skill she can use any time she needs it to save her time with storing her email. How much time will it take her to create a new folder next time, now she knows how? Less than one minute. No more one hour frustrations sessions over this folder thing or her email storage.

What caused her to have success this time?

1. She did not use "TOO BUSY" as an excuse for not being able to learn it

2. She had the correct mind set to learn because she knew she was sharpening her saw for later.

3. She took the time to read everything on the page before she jumped to any conclusions as how to do it.

4. She followed the instructions and did not try to figure it out with following the steps outlined in the instructions.

5. She stepped back and looked at the whole picture and studied it for details, noticing things like two boxes to put names in rather than one, words like MOVE and NEW. Then she WONDERED WHY. She read every word on the window and was curious as to why things were there and did not just "HURRY TO GET IT DONE".

6. She had the determination to actually try it, do it, stick with it and not just get mad if it did not work. If she could not figure part of it out, SHE REREAD THE INSTRUCTIONS or called someone for help.

These are the things that make the difference in learning.

REVIEW:
HAVE THE MIND SET TO NOT BE IN TOO BIG A HURRY. TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN IT .

PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS BY LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE. WONDER WHY.

READE THE INSTRUCTIONS AND NOT JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS OR TRY TO JUST DO IT TO GET IT OVER WITH.

So you can write my "Three Life's Lessons To Learning" in your little black book now.

Lesson #1: Why is there never time to do it right the first time but always time to do it over?

Lesson #2: Being too busy is not an excuse for not being able to learn something.

Lesson #3: Attention to detail will save you a great deal of time, frustration and money and help you learn HOW TO DO THINGS RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

I hope you will never again say you can't learn. Be positive and say, "YES! I can do this. I will try".

Cordell Vail, W.B.

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