Showing posts with label Teaching a Skill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teaching a Skill. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Portable Generator Lesson

When Hurricane Irene came through our area in southeastern Virginia, we felt like we had dodged a bullet. The winds were far less than predicted, and we never lost power when the storm was at its worst.

But around midnight, I could still hear the wind howling, and I noticed the light was gone from the digital clock on my nightstand. Our power was out. When we got up the next morning, we still didn’t have power, so my husband Lee said he was going to run our small portable generator for a while, to make sure the food in the refrigerator and stand-alone freezer stayed cold.

We went out to the garage and he rolled the generator out to the driveway close enough to the house to plug in all the cords. And then he said, “I’m going to show you how to do this so you can do it yourself if you need to. It’s really easy.”

That was my first clue that it wasn’t going to be easy…for ME. Because, as I pointed out in an earlier post, my husband is a technical genius. He’s been taking things apart and putting them back together his entire life. There is no mechanical or technical problem that he cannot fix…at least none I’ve seen in our 29 years of marriage. He could easily have his own TV show and put This Old House to shame. He’s that good.

So when he said this would be easy, that should have been my clue to go back in the house and grab a pad of paper and pencil to take notes. But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to simply watch and listen, hoping I’d somehow remember all the steps.

First is this thick gray cord that connects the generator to an outlet that’s installed outdoors. That sounds simple enough, but each of them has to be grounded and so there are actually FOUR connections at this point and they have to be done in a very specific way.

Then there are buttons to turn on and off, a choke to turn on and a pull-start like a lawn mower to get it started. And you have to pull it HARD, I noticed. Inside the garage is a separate emergency panel with its own set of breakers. And there are different ones you have to turn to the off and on position.

See what I mean? 

I could feel my stomach tighten up as I thought about how easy it would be for me to forget a step or do something out of sequence and maybe blow up myself in the process.

As I was standing there watching him and trying to absorb what he was saying, I resolved to make sure I do everything I can to keep my husband healthy. I don’t ever want to have to do this myself.

And of course, like magic, after Lee made all the connections, pushed all the right buttons and moved all the right switches, the power came on in the zones he selected. The freezer and refrigerator were soon humming along. And I breathed a sigh of relief that I have him in my life to handle tasks like this.

How does this relate to you?

You’ve learned how to do a lot of things well in your life. And now they’re automatic. But not everyone in your life has these same skills.

There are many occasions when you’ll be in a position to teach others what you know – whether it’s introducing your teenager to the world of driving or a coworker to a new software application.

In such instances, you’ll need patience and understanding. Try to imagine the thoughts and feelings they may be having….uncertainty, fear and doubt. But they probably won’t tell you. They don’t want to look bad or appear foolish.

Just remember that it’s going to take time, practice and lots of repetition for someone to acquire the ability that now comes so naturally for you. You may have to go over the directions more than once. Your job here is as much about helping the other person gain confidence as it is about showing how to do the skill. When you keep that in mind, you’ll take an approach that helps the other person relax. Your patient, compassionate attitude will facilitate the learning process and strengthen your relationship at the same time.