Riding the momentum of the New Year, I wanted to take a moment to expand on a theme from The Architects of Aesthetics‘ about being consistent. How you start doesn’t matter as much as just getting started. After that, it’s just a matter of time spent traveling down the road.
When it comes to effort and time, I think it helps to think of communication in terms of driving a car.
This is the area most of us are familiar with. You need fuel to run a car. You need information to expand your knowledge and shape your words when you speak.
We buy gas at a station. We can consume knowledge through a variety of media these days, but most of us get some form of foundation at school. Of course, there’s different types and backgrounds of education. Not every academic source is equal, just like how super-unleaded and premium gasoline exist.
Spending too much time in this phase is bad because it’s more important to…
Put the Foot on the Gas Pedal
You can fill up a car with the highest grade fuel, but it’s not going to go anywhere until you put your foot down. Likewise, I see people fall in love with their education yet never put it to use.
You can have the best teacher or gone to the best school, but what’s more important after that phase of education is done? It’s how you use it.
Too often, I see excellent students fail to improve their speaking skills. They put all their time into the classroom or in preparation for the classroom. They rarely put in the time to apply it outside in “the real world”.
This is why the concept of “immersion” doesn’t always have the impact people expect it to. Just being abroad isn’t enough. That’s like buying a race car and expecting yourself to suddenly know how to drift.
Sure, they see some development. They become fairly proficient in small talk. They know how to ask and answer the basic question. It becomes comforting in a way. But it’s a very faulty approach. It’s like thinking that being able to drive around your neighborhood makes you a good driver. You need to be able to drive on the highway. And in order to do so, you need to…
Drive on the Highway
You can’t get comfortable driving on the highway by never driving on the highway. You get comfortable with the highway by spending more time on the highway.
The people who stick with empty conversations are missing out on the fun stuff. Sure, it takes time to get used to the quicker pace and dynamic, but you can’t spend all your time hovering at the slow speeds.
They’re completely different tracks, and one doesn’t necessarily help you handle the other.
Put in the Mileage
Don’t make the mistake of thinking buying the right gas will have you ready to drive on the highway. Don’t think getting the best education will prepare you for speaking and handling life situations.
The more you experience life, the better you’re equipped to handle it.
This is probably the one aspect that strays from my car metaphors. Eventually an automobile will get over-driven and break. But for us, as people, the miles and effort we put in will only help us for the better.
Just as long as you’re on the right track.
Need help getting on the right speaking track? Contact Jon for a free 15 minute consultation for improvement in public speaking, English speaking, and personal communication.