Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Learn By Speaking To Experts

Dr Cal Lightman is an expert on lie-detection in the hit TV series. It is based on real-life social anthropologist, Dr Ekman's work and research on facial recognition and micro-gestures.
One of the lessons in business and in endurance sports I have learnt is: Talk to experts.

This approach seems to be a common pattern among people of excellence. Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson suggested that he ‘surrounds himself with experts’. He manages this ‘team’, while they help manage his numerous businesses he has created. Macro-manage instead of micro-manage. Tap on the expert’s expertise and breadth of working experience. Learn to leverage on their lessons.

I was at Adidas retail-outlets last week, looking for minimalist shoes to train and race in. I met one of their experts, Sean who asked me questions about my running needs. He surprised me pleasantly by identifying some of my discrepancies about my feet; I had a broken toe that has caused my foot to be slightly wider. Together, we decided on the most comfortable shoe size, design and weight for my running needs. I respectfully asked him questions that intrigued me, however naïve or ignorant I may have sounded. Ask, and ye shall find.

Working with an expert such as a coach – whether in sports, business or career – can be an edifying experience. You learn much about collaboration, perspectives, and developing capability. You also learn to recognize the values of performance, respect, potential, broad-mindedness, and choice. When choosing to work with experts, interview them as you would any job candidate. How close do they fit your profile and expectation? How wide is their experience? Which unique skill-sets would you find complementary? Which personality type would you prefer? Would you prefer an astute critic, or an engaging encourager?

A coach who walks their talk is highly relevant. Being consistent in their thoughts, words and deeds is important. Certainly, coaching is a partnership. Once you engage a coach, you will need to trust them and the process. You will have to commit to the active processes of exploration, analyses and prescription. Constant feed forward and feedback are crucial pieces of the strategic equation for performance.

If you are keen to enhance your swimming performance during a race, here is an expert’s opinion.

If you would like to change your tire, and this is crucial during a race when the technical support team is not immediately available. It is important to be self-sufficient through your technical skills and working knowledge.

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