Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Easiest Way to Learn


A true story points to a universal truth about human beings: we learn best by watching how others behave.

President Calvin Coolidge once invited friends from his hometown to dine with him at the White House. Unsure of their table manners, the guests decided to imitate the president. They watched closely to see which utensils he used, what foods he ate and when.

Their strategy seemed to succeed until coffee was served. Coolidge poured some coffee into his saucer. They did the same. He added sugar and cream. His guests did, too. Then the president bent over and put his saucer on the floor for the cat!

Like Coolidge’s hometown guests, we, too, seem to learn best by imitation. Kids learn by observing parents when they are young, and by copying their peers as they grow older. In fact, parents should probably be less concerned about whether their children are paying attention to them and more worried about the fact that their kids are ALWAYS watching.

They tell us that adults learn in much the same way. If you’re struggling with your computer or want to learn to drive a car, you will be more successful if you have someone show you how to do it. You can always read the operator’s manual and try to figure everything out yourself, but you will learn best by watching others and asking questions.

What if you want to become more self confident, to organize your life, to be a better parent or to get along better with others? Again, we’re told that the best way to learn these skills and attitudes is to find somebody who already is confident, or who is an effective parent or who has healthy attitudes and then mimic the traits you want to adopt. It is the easiest and quickest way to shape your life.

Just about ANY personality trait or skill can be learned: simply find it in someone you know and copy it. Then watch what happens.

-- Steve Goodier

Image: flickr.com/Shannon McGee

1 comment:

Diana said...

And I can't imagine what that means in light of all the folks who influenced our new President his entire life. One would think the similarities of their sympathies, actions and beliefs would speak clearly regarding HIS life-education. What happened to "you are the company you keep"?