Babette and I had a great chat about the difference between education and learning the other day. She asked for a story that has shaped my being; part of what has formed my character. This is one of the most unlikely and powerful ways someone changed who I am:
The auto plant was humming along all morning without a hitch until right after lunch. Suddenly things came to a grinding halt. Red lights flashed. Managers spilled out of their air conditioned offices and 100 workers tried to find other things to do besides build automobiles. In moments like these, there’s never enough brooms to go around.
Then the technicians and electricians showed up with their meters and belts full of tools. 15 minutes went by, then 30; an eternity in terms of lost production. Managers furrowed their brows and offered their “encouragement” to to the technicians. Despite all of the testing and dismantling, chin rubbing and arm folding, no one could figure out how to make the auto making machinery happy again.
Then the line’s utility man returned from his lunch break. He made his way through the throng to the main source of wonderment: an electrical panel full of lights and switches that controlled all the little mechanical whatsits. He made a quick scan of the panel and said: “oh. Here we go.” He flicked one of the lights a few times. It went from dark to light. The machinery whirred to life. We grunts put the brooms away and went back to our stations. The managers went back to their air conditioned offices. The technicians went back to their dark corners. Business resumed thanks to the uneducated utility man in his grease stained coveralls.
What happened that day helped me see that education can be a fine thing, but learning is even better. We had dozens of well-educated people racking their brains to find the cause of the problem, and yet it was the utility man who never finished high school who was seemingly the only one who had learned enough to save the day. Wisdom and learning are not the same as education. It is quite possible to have one without the other.
I know there are great institutions out there that can provide real learning experiences. I highly encourage everyone to get as much education as they can, but more than that, I try and learn everything I can, in school or out, from everyone I speak to and every situation I find myself in. Everyone is a teacher. Some teach good lessons, some bad. Life can be your classroom if you let it. You might even get the chance to save the day, even if you never finished high school.
Don F. Perkins is a sales and marketing expert. An innovative, highly technical, savvy and street smart guy who brings everything down to earth. Don understands the internet and how social media can and does make a difference in your business and revenue development.