Since 1977, I have been sending out a newsletter called LEARNINGS. Here is how I began the first issue:
This newsletter—LEARNINGS—is my way of sharing with you what I am learning. Often I learn something with one client that would have been useful with another client the day before. In order to bridge that gap of time and also to bridge the gap of space that separates me from clients and other friends outside Cleveland, I will share my learnings with you regularly in this newsletter.
That statement feels amazingly accurate more than 35 years later. The only real change is that I moved from Cleveland to London and then on to the Crook of Devon in Scotland.
In the earlier newsletters, I shared one or two learnings each time. Then I read a wonderful book by Michael Phillips called The Seven Laws of Money. He describes the Taoist approach to creating Seven Laws about anything.
I like that approach except that instead of announcing Laws, I prefer to share Learnings. I’ve now discovered Seven Learnings about all sorts of things, including Journaling, Love, Retreat, and Diversity. The latest Learnings starts here; the rest are in the Learnings Archive.
LEARNING: Roses are results.
When I was 13 years old, I took a class in printing. Mr. MacRae taught us how to set movable type and how to operate a printing press. The tray of movable type was the size of a small desk – and if someone decided to steal some of your letter, you had to go looking for them before you could finish setting the type. The trick – as in typing – was to practise so that you could reach for a specific letter automatically. The printing press was a letterpress so we had to put ink on the rollers and mount the type very carefully. The press was big and noisy. But it produced beautiful results.
I often wonder what Mr. MacRae would think of how I create this newsletter now. After I do six or seven drafts on my computer, I send a “relatively final” draft to Denise. Even though her office is about 50 miles from here, we communicate instantly by electronic mail. She uses her computer to do the page layout and sends the “almost final” draft back to me. Then we discuss how to rearrange certain lines to make everything look better. After some more rewriting, I surrender to deadline and she forwards the camera-ready film to a printer who prints the newsletters on a high-speed lithographic press.
But Mr. MacRae would be happy to know that I still know what an em dash is – like the two surrounding this phrase – because I remember that we needed to use pieces of type called em spaces or en spaces depending on how many spaces the line required. The fact that my computer can do that kind of spacing automatically is still a miracle to me.
Mr. MacRae was a good teacher. He not only taught us skills – which sometimes fade; he also taught us values – which do not. Mr. MacRae first taught us some basic skills. Then he gave us Job Number 4 , which turned out to be a poem. We had to set the text from our trays of movable type and then print the poem on the big press.
Mr. MacRae knew something that I have heard from other printers since: when you spend time setting up and printing something, you gradually notice what it says. So Mr. MacRae gave us a poem by E. A. Guest. I still have several copies of the 25 that I printed.
Guest wrote this long before some of learned that when we use the term “man” we exclude women. So I ask you to translate. Here is the poem:
The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small or very big,
With flowers here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.
Things are mighty few on earth,
That wishes can attain.
Whate’er we want of any worth
We’ve got to work to gain.
It matters not what goal you seek
Its secret here reposes:
You’ve got to dig from week to week
To get results or roses.
I must admit that I do not do as well with these values as Mr. MacRae might wish. I am not very good at working regularly. But I have learned that I need to focus on results at least some of the time. Even more important, I need to focus on results worth having – like roses.
Over the past few years, I have been developing a new model for communications that I call the Results Model. Many of our courses use this model, so we call the courses Influencing for Results or Dreaming for Results or Negotiating Internationally for Results.
The Results Model offers four possible results – a deal, a solution, a connection, or an understanding. During the courses, we help people learn to behave in different ways in order to get different results.
What I have been learning recently is that although I can learn how to behave differently, I will not continue to behave that way if I do not believe in the particular values which support that approach.
For instance, I can learn to listen to someone. But if I do not believe in certain values – such as learning from others or empowering people or looking at things from different angles – then I will stop listening before I get a result.
Just now as I type this (and this is why I love doing Learnings – I love to catch myself learning!) I suddenly realise that the two kinds of work that I do are mirror images. When I teach influencing and negotiating, I help people discover the values that help or hinder their communication skills. When I teach life and career designing, I help people discover the skills that they do best and enjoy most – so that they can pursue the values that are most important to them in life.
So perhaps this newsletter will answer the question of my college friend Ken Levin who wrote me a very kind letter about my father. He said he appreciated getting Learnings even though “I’m not quite sure what you do.” Well, Ken, I hope this helps. As I move into my fifties. I help people combine their values and their skills to get results. And I use my own skills and values to encourage people towards results that are as beautiful as roses.
LEARNING: Results are roses.