Have you ever felt like you were hit squarely in the face by a lesson from an unexpected mentor? When they’re absolutely right…it usually hurts more, doesn’t it? But after the pain we are never the same.
A while back in Bel Air, CA, I was attending a casino night fundraiser for a friend-of-a-friend’s theater company. Since my friend was busy volunteering, I decided to use my time as a learning experience. Because I live in Las Vegas, casino jokes were flying my way. I’ve never been into gambling, so I’d never really taken the time to understand or learn how to play the dice game called “craps.”
But I had be curious for a long time how it worked because it never really made sense to me. So, I stood at the craps table and watched, listened, and asked questions. After observing for about 30 minutes, this little old lady with a spit-fire attitude walked up to me, looked me up and down, didn’t say a word, and placed her bet.
After she played a couple rounds of craps, she looked at me again, and asked, “What are you doing?” I smiled and said,”I’m learning the game…I’ve never played before. I don’t even know how to bet. I’m watching, asking questions, and learning.” With a scowl on her face she abruptly replied, “You say you want to learn. You’ll learn faster if you play. You have nothing in the game. You want to learn? Then get in the game! Play!“
I smiled, nodded in agreement… and continued my education my way. “What are you doing?” She barked even louder. I nervously laughed and said defensively, “I don’t know enough to play yet!” She shook her head in disgust and said,“Just put down some money, you’ll be surprised how fast you learn.” She turned to go, but stared me down and didn’t let me leave until I put money down. I said, “OK, OK I’ll put money in the game!”
Do you know what? She was right. Wisdom from years of experience usually is, wouldn’t you agree?
* * * * *
I won’t let up, either. I won’t turn my back on you, or walk away from you, either. (This is me talking to you now, you Sponge subscriber.)
I’m going to keep reminding you, until you put more in the game and have more at stake you won’t truly learn at the pace necessary to master something. From new software, to a new stage skill it works. Perpetual students will learn slowly. When you get a new insight, dive in and experience it incorrectly. My mentor, Dave taught me that anything worth doing tight is worth doing wrong first. Experience has not equivalent as a teacher.
Then, when you do, I’m going to tell you to put even more in.
Either get in the game, or move to another table.
Life is short.
If you want to connect better with your audience, speak more often and seek more feedback. If you want to be a professional speaker…speak even more, and crave even more feedback. Make even more mistakes.
Stop worrying about your next speech, and focus on getting to your five hundredth speech! A year from now, no one will be talking about the one that didn’t go perfectly. But — I can promise you — if you give 100 presentation live or online throughout that year…the year after that, you WILL be a transformed presenter. The world does not need another presenter. The world needs amazing presenters.
One lesson that little old lady with the attitude DIDN’T teach me…was when to stop. LOL. I kept winning for an hour. It was fun!
Then, I promptly lost it all. Ouch.
Although I left with no chips, I left with something much more valuable…a powerful, practical, life lesson.
I never caught her name, but I hope I’ll always remember her lesson:
You’ll learn faster when you get in the game.
The more you have invested the faster you will learn.
What is stopping you from putting more in the game?
2001 World Champ of Public Speaking