You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Training StorySpring Training. A term all baseball fans know and love. An event most baseball fans would love to watch. There’s Hockey Camp, Pre-season Football, the list goes on. It stands to reason, if you want to be good, you gotta train. All the top players go the extra mile for training and personal trainers.

In a previous life I spent some time as a Scoutmaster. Most of my Boy Scouts were also on the track team. Because of a Scouting function, some of the boys in my troop missed one of the track training sessions. “No problem,” said the coach. “There’s a FREE 5K run next weekend, run the 5K, bring me the bib number and I’ll forgive your missed practice”. I felt guilty that the boys missed track for a Scout event, so I made a point to pick up the boys on Saturday morning and bring them to the race. I seemed to get caught up in all the pre-race buzz and suddenly had an epiphany; if these young teenagers can run 3.1 miles, why can’t I? After all, I’m reasonably fit, I stay active, I can DO this! (But I hadn’t put one foot in front of the other to run more than a few yards in 20 years!)

I toed the line with a hundred other citizens of all shapes and abilities. The gun went off and so was I! I paced myself pretty well and finished in 23 minutes or so and I was pleased with that. A few minutes after I finished my legs began to cramp. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t walk, but I could hobble back to the van (with the help of some Boy Scouts!) For the next week, every fiber of my body seemed to ache! Of course, the legs and hips, but my toes? Really? My toes actually hurt. My arms hurt. My breasts hurt (I never even thought about my breasts before this!) My neck and my back hurt!

A NEW epiphany! A 30-something year old man should not have to suffer for a week because of a 23-minute activity. I developed a training plan. I started lifting weights, stretching, and even running, slowly for a half mile at first, then building to a mile, then more! I signed up for more 5K runs, then committed to a series! After a couple of months, I was running sub-20-minute 5K’s; and felt GOOD when I finished! The secret was in the training and preparedness.

Epiphany #3, apply training to my professional life. Before internet (1995-ish) training consisted of a product pitch in the backroom of the local parts store. I occasionally caught some info on automotive training at a local community college, but that was spotty at best. I read all the trade magazines, loved the tech articles, pondered over the management concepts, and drooled over all the activities happening at trade shows all over the country. We spent a weekend at a 3-day Vin Waterhouse conference and THAT was an eye-opener! Just the idea that there were people out there, SMART people that really understood my business and wanted to help. I started applying some new concepts to my business (some worked, some didn’t) and overall, business got better!

We made the decision to start attending some of the major trade shows, taking advantage of training, getting to know the trainers and the industry movers and shakers. I found out they were people just like us. They get up in the morning and put their pants on one leg at a time, just like me. They all know their craft and were more than willing to share the knowledge. The technical classes were amazing with all the new technology coming at us (it never stops). We knew the tooling to buy as the technology rolled out. The management concepts needed to be weeded out. I soon realized that what was good for ABC Shop might not work for XYZ Garage. I know my shop and my customers and now I have a successful business plan. My favorite phrase soon became “You don’t know what you don’t know”.

So, I challenge you this; You don’t know what you don’t know, so make a plan to train. Plan on technical training as well as management training. I promise you will feel good about it when you are done. Training isn’t free, but the returns are enormous. You stand a chance of training your techs, and they go to work for your competitors, on the flip side, don’t train them and they stay forever!

I suggest you start here  no one knows where you will end up.

Where did my run training take me? I ran my first marathon (43 years old) in an Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 26.2-mile run, 112 mile bike).

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