The Passive Master

With a few hundred dollars and a year of study, YOU TOO can be a MASTER. Buy a few books. Sign up for some paid or free CBT. Take a class at a local training center. Watch some YouTube/Vimeo/etc. videos. Read several Wikipedia articles. Browse forums, follow links on LinkedIn, check blogs. And in a year – yes, just 365 days – YOU can master many a subject.Well, sort of. You can master it passively. There’s a difference between passive and active learning. Passive is everything that I mentioned above – watching videos, attending lectures, reading. This is all great, and I encourage it. I do it, we teach our children to do it, I send links to friends and coworkers…knowledge is important. The missing link in completing the learning cycle is actively engaging in what you’re learning.

This active engagement is missing in much of today’s learning, whether youth or adult, public or private, personal or professional. We’re taught from a young age to sit and learn, and a great deal of that learning is just watching and memorizing. Anyone who’s ever learned a musical instrument, or computer programming, or firefighting – any field at all – they all know…you have to DO IT to become adept at whatever it is.

I know it can be very difficult to find someone else who is ahead of you in knowledge AND available. I find it very easy to find someone with advanced knowledge in almost every area of my interests. But not one of them is available for me to come over for X amount of time and have me shadow them. They’re too busy doing their job! πŸ™‚

It’s a confounding issue – those who need to know the real-life scenarios are very interested in learning; those with the ability are more than willing to help out; yet those two groups are so busy with their day jobs, families, hobbies (in short, life), that there’s very little time, if any, to devote to actively engaging in what I’d call an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship – That’s what it will take in the near future for us and the next generation to really learn how to do things. There was a generation not too long ago that just simply did things, without much book-larnin’, and we make fun of them: β€œHe’s so old-school; she’s out of touch; they’re stuck in their ways.” They didn’t have the resources we have, they tended to be stubborn and shy away from anything but the School of Hard Knocks – but they could, and can, do lots of things.

We have many amongst us today who have a tremendous amount of knowledge, and can write and talk and manage. But it’s an unusual find when I come across someone who can say, β€œI know about computer networks AND I’ve built them all.” β€œI know about cars AND I work on them all the time.” β€œI know X AND I do it every day.”

Being a Passive Master is a good thing. If that’s where you are (I know it’s nigh unto impossible to get with a master during your workday and learn how to do new things), then at least take the opportunity to learn what you can. No experience or knowledge has to be wasted.

If you have a chance, however, to get with someone, especially on a consistent basis, to do real-life things with the knowledge that you’ve gained, then you’ll be in a good position to do a greater work – to be able to do what you know AND have your own apprentice to whom you can pass on that learning.

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