Sunday, December 5, 2010

Watching People Work

Last week I had the opportunity to watch two young men trim and cable a 50 foot black cherry tree. The tree is just outside my kitchen window and I found myself having several cups of tea while they performed their magic. There were two young men, one an experienced forester and the other a high school student getting his work experience credit. While they worked I made several observations.

Experience Counts
The experienced one, Mike, trusted his equipment, safety harness, seat sling and saws. He swung from one branch to another, at times just hanging in the air with no part of his body acting as an anchor. He bent in all kinds of shapes (contortions I can no longer do) to get to the branches he wanted to cut. He hung by one hand, holding on to the branch he was cutting, with his feet dangling. He was continually moving about the tree.

Mark, the student, acted differently. He had not come to fully trust his equipment. He was tentative in all his movements. Mark used at least one foot or hand as an anchor, most of the time one hand and one foot. All his movements were forward and in one direction only. He was not going to twist his body to get at a branch beside him. He did about one quarter of the work Mike did.

Mark got stuck trying to get at a cut higher on the tree and out on a very thin limb. Like a good student Mark asked for help.  Mike took a look and started to talk him through the next steps, where to lean, how to move his support ropes to a different position, how to lean and use the support the safety harness gave him. A little while later I saw Mark swing out around a branch to get at a new cut. It was quite a change.

This leads me to other observations:-

We Learn By Doing
At the begging of the day Mark was tentative and, I suspect, fearful. Who really wants to be up a tree 39 feet of the ground with hard rocks all around the base? As he worked, he kept his old attitude, fears, behaviours, certainties (gravity works) and limiting thoughts.  The new information Mike gave him was interesting and did not take hold until he actually tried to implement the instructions. Once he did that, he revised his previous beliefs and became much more effective.

Do What You Love
I asked Mike how he liked working for the company. He said he loved it. He went through school to get his Forestry degree, loves working outdoors, and likes the different challenges that new assignments and trees offer him.  He beams when he says that he is the go to guy for any difficult job.

So I got to thinking “How does this apply to me?” I have a lot of experiences and some experience. What am I going to do in the next twenty years to make this experience useful to others? I am looking at creating an on-line interactive training program about how to excel in a corporate environment.  I see it as a program on how to get along with people while getting the job done. It has been my experience that most people can do the technical part of the work they choose but make their mistakes dealing with the people side.

I have to learn - how to put video up on the web, how to create good e-learning material, how to create interactivity, how to use pictures and music to enhance the learning as well as lots of other neat stuff. Be warned, you may see some of my practice in this blog.

I have been looking for work which I would do without being paid for my entire career. At times I think I have worked without pay but that was for another reason. I had found this work for four years after going out on my own. I partnered with a great business friend and ran a training business. I worked my own schedule, had a variety of duties (administration, marketing, training, selling) had help in doing things I was not born to do, ( repetitive detailed tasks) and even have had those moments of  'Flow'. However, all (good) things come to an end.  I know I will find and/or create this kind of work again  and even may love it more as I find an even more authentic self..

Thanks for reading, and tell us what you think.

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