Not all of us have the write stuff…


“I COULD write a book about that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

I am sure you or oth­ers you know have used this phrase to ex­plain an event in their lives.

I find the phrase un­for­tu­nate. For one thing, it makes com­mon­place of the tal­ents that come with writ­ing a book.

Let’s face it, some peo­ple we went to school with could not write a co­her­ent com­po­si­tion on a topic such as a “A jour­ney by bus”.

Now they think they can write a book about a com­plex is­sue such as how their chil­dren have man­aged the meta­mor­pho­sis from be­ing an obe­di­ent child to be­ing a re­bel­lious teenager.

De­spite this, I have sym­pa­thy for peo­ple who use the phrase, at least as a fig­ure of speech.

Ours is a gen­er­a­tion that seems to be­lieve that any­body can do any­thing.

I wish I could blame it on the in­ter­net with its un­end­ing sup­ply of “how to” ar­ti­cles. There is vir­tu­ally noth­ing you would not find how to do from the in­ter­net.

I mean any­thing from how to per­form a love act to con­struct­ing a bomb, not that I am giv­ing you ideas.

All this brings me to a per­ma­nent gripe.

Par­ents, life part­ners, man­agers and ev­ery­one else ex­pects that peo­ple would nat­u­rally know how to do cer­tain things.

If you are a man, it is some­how ex­pected that you would know how to fix house­hold elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances.

Women are as­sumed to be able to cook for no other rea­son than they are women.

In the work­place, many are as­sumed to be able to carry out their du­ties, no mat­ter the changes from the orig­i­nal brief, just be­cause they work there.

In a fast-chang­ing world, con­tin­u­ous learn­ing must be the only con­stant.

None of us can op­er­ate on the as­sump­tion that our sex or pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence is enough to carry us through the changes we face.

Not even gravedig­gers – in my book a con­tender for the old­est pro­fes­sion – can op­er­ate like they did 100 years ago.

Yes, peo­ple still die but tech­nol­ogy al­lows for a dif­fer­ent way of dig­ging graves.

The point is sim­ply that any­one who will not in­vest in their own train­ing or those they hope to make prof­its out of their skill, face dis­ap­point­ment sooner than later, some­times of a very ex­pen­sive na­ture.

As­sump­tions usu­ally are costly.

So if we are to use phrases such as “I could write a book” or “even my two-year-old can paint that (re­fer­ring to a Pi­casso ab­stract), please take a mo­ment to lis­ten to your­self.

At best ac­cept that it is a fig­ure of speech or at worst, an egre­gious ex­er­cise in ar­ro­gance. And stop plac­ing your two-year-old un­der such im­mense pres­sure as to cre­ate time­less pieces of art be­fore he even learns to speak.

If you in­sist that every­body can do ev­ery­thing, at least give them ac­cess to some train­ing to back your as­sump­tions and hopes.

Of course, some will not stay long enough (in the per­sonal re­la­tion­ship and the work­place) to make the in­vest­ment worth­while.

I am re­minded of a much-used man­age­ment quote: “What if we train them and they leave?” the big boss asked.

“What if we don’t and they stay?” the man­ager re­sponded.

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