Just when you thought there wasn’t anything new to say about how to learn, I met Nancy Eberhardt. Nancy is the author of Uncommon Candor and a former regional bank manager of a $1B portfolio. In a description of Nancy’s book, Uncommon Candor, it says, “You’ll appreciate her pragmatic, “I can use that today” advice and real-life examples you can relate to.” Here’s some of her real-life examples you might just use today for yourself to learn and gain new insights.
In our conversation, Nancy began talking about how she brings new knowledge into her work. What she described was nothing new in particular, but it was how she used the information that struck me. In her work with clients, she has the opportunity to hear the everyday business problems across many businesses. What she hears are the trends in the market place that can be used to enhance strategies. What helps so much with this approach is that she has many clients, so her information comes from multiple sources and trends become apparent. (Who says you’re the only teacher when in conversation with clients?)
“It’s the trends that are so important,” she says. Beyond her clients, she has four people she talks to regularly – each in different fields. As they talk, each describes what he or she is seeing. By the end of the conversations, she has new insights and synergies working for her. Sounds commonplace doesn’t it? Now, here is the secret ingredient to the sauce. When does Nancy find the time to do this? Nancy uses Monday mornings and Friday afternoons to set up the times for these conversations. “No one books things on either of these two times, but I like the Monday morning conversation, because it inspires me.” At the beginning of the week, we all need inspiration. “On Friday afternoon, we’re all too tired to do heavy work, but it’s a great time for conversation,” she adds.
The sauce has a second secret ingredient. Learning new things is great, but the real power is when you take the time to integrate what you have just learned with what you already know and gain those unexpected insights. Certainly her conversation time is part of this, but as Nancy does a lot of driving, she also uses the time while going from one place to the next for thinking – usually by talking out loud to herself. She says, “It’s really great now when people see you talking with no one else around. They assume you’re talking on a Bluetooth. No more embarrassment about talking to yourself anymore!” It’s in these conversations – with herself – that Nancy picks out the one or two important facts among the hundreds that are swirling around in her head. Moreover, looking across them all, patterns emerge. Who knew that sitting in relative silence and talking to yourself could yield so many benefits?
How do you give yourself time to think through what you are discovering and learning every day? Are you filling every minute with radio, music, books on CDs, podcosts that steals away every opportunity to let your mind go through its paces? Stop now, and think about this question. If you have a moment, let’s hear what you discover about your thinking time.