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They can’t teach that

November 12, 2014
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

When a football player makes a running one-handed catch while summersaulting and landing with both toes in-bounds, commentators like to say "You can't teach that," implying, of course, that it's a natural talent that one has to be born with. Yet I will bet that a person who had never played football before could not perform that feat. I think it takes all three -coaching, experience and talent- to pull off these feats, and it holds true in all professions.

For instance:

- A young student of auto mechanics learns in a classroom environment how to disassemble, clean, calibrate and reassemble a mechanical part like a carburetor, over and over. Eventually he can do it in his sleep. On his first day on the job, he is faced with a customer who has a carburetor problem, but before he will allow the repairs, the customer asks: "Why did the thing fail in the first place, how long will it last after it's fixed, and how much will this cost if I bring my own parts?" Our boy goes looking for someone who can answer those questions. Our fresh student has had the coaching, but lacks the experience to answer these questions. No one-handed catch made here. Trying to answer would end in a guaranteed fumble.

- Our graduate student continues his education with seminars on troubleshooting techniques, logical thinking for diagnostic procedures, and computer technology. Back at work, a customer asks: "What kind of car should I buy? I've had Fords and Chevys and Toyotas and I've had tons of problems with all of them. I keep trying different dealerships and garages but everybody overcharges for repair work, so I need a car that won't need all that much maintenance. Which ones should I look at?" Our boy goes looking for someone to answer these questions. If he tries to guess on any of these questions, he'll surely land out-of-bounds.

- Our working mechanic, after a few years on the job, finds that he is better able to field technical questions. He can now diagnose problems and he can do the necessary research to make estimates, and he has gained experience about different vehicles and their common problems. One day a lady comes in with a problem, in tears and nearly hysterical. "I'm late picking my daughter up from school, and the car just quit on me. It scared me to death. It restarted but the warning lights were on, and an alarm bell was ringing from somewhere, but I made it this far and I'm afraid to go any farther but I have to get my daughter picked up because my husband is out of town and I don't know what I'm going to do."

Our guy replies, "It would not be safe to continue on with your car until we can get to the bottom of this. Please take my car and go to pick up your daughter. Here are the keys. Just stop by on your way back and we'll have a diagnosis and estimate ready for fixing your car, and we can have a taxi waiting for you if it can't be done today. Will that be okay?"

His training and experience got him to the point where he could use his innate talent. You can't teach that.



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