Theory and practice are both essential to optimise any learning process. Although I believe one is more effective than the other, and with good reason.
Reading is great. Exploring new concepts and theories and finding patterns across different categories is a good way to learn about something. Theory is a great way, in my own personal opinion, to become aware of ideas and perspective that I might never have had the chance to encounter otherwise.
However, reading can only make you aware but does not teach you practical skills and live application.
If it were otherwise all it would take to become an expert at something would be to read a series of books about it.
As much as reading is a wonderful activity, practice is at the core of learning skills. All the theory in the world about being exceptional at something will not take you anywhere without any action on your part.
‘The best way to learn about anything is by doing it’ – Richard Branson
Here is some research done by Rackham, the author of the bestselling book ‘Spin Selling’ that serves as an example.
In his experiment they were doing some research on catching smugglers. The outcome was to find out how some customs officers had a much higher hit rate than others.
They found 23 customs agents who each had a consistent and outstanding record in stopping and detecting smugglers. After interviewing them all they found that 18 out of 23 said that ‘it was all in the eyes’.
What the research group found after putting their findings to the test was that what these top performers claimed was surprising. It had no effect whatsoever.
So after obtaining these results, the research group decided to go out in the field with the top performers and assess them while they were working.
This time they found that the top officers were looking for signs of conscious bodily control in the potential smugglers, such as tighter neck muscles and upright posture.
Isn’t that interesting?
This example shows how in theory the top performers thought they were looking for certain signs in people although in action they were actually looking for something else.
The point of this article is do not take anyone’s advice as a sole source of knowledge. Go out there and test it for yourself.
No amount of theory will, come even close to learning directly from an expert while they are engaged in their specific behaviour and in that specific context.
So you can act the same way you’ve been acting so far, or you can choose to change the way you act from now on, and into the future. More importantly, whatever you choose to do remember that it is just acting and not ‘who you are’.
Now it’s your turn!, take your next step towards Exceptional Effectiveness. You now have a new way in which to to learn new behaviours.
Remember this is practical advice not just another theory, so do go out and try it, and, let me know how you went.,
Edited by Jules Collingwood NLP Trainer at INSPIRITIVE.
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