Saturday, February 12, 2011

Teaching An Old Dog

I have always enjoyed the good quotation or catchphrase, especially when I can find a way to relate them to my own rather quixotic existence. This week brought one to mind as I found myself in the midst of an very talented, highly intelligent, and extremely motivated group of individuals to have a bit of sales training administered. 

Now I have been in sales since 1979, have offered a number of product lines, and have been relatively successful in providing customer solutions in forty-seven States, five Canadian provinces, and a number of foreign countries. This wealth of experience however, only managed to underscore the idea that there is always a great deal to learn; and that you can never receive enough training in your chosen profession, no matter how extensive you believe your skill set is. 

The fact that the scope and scale of the information furnished was done with the force of a fire hose did nothing to make it easier to absorb. For someone not recently immersed (literally or figuratively) in such an intensive academic setting, the experience was almost overwhelming. I found myself more than willing to seek the restorative properties of 'checking for cracks in my eyelids' by each days end. The experience also seemed to draw me into a bit of introspection over my own capability to learn new things. The knowledge perhaps that if a slice of me were examined like that of a tree, that counting the rings might prove a time consuming task, that there are perhaps fewer days ahead of me in my career than behind me, and that many of those I shared this experience with were far younger may have contributed to the trepidation I felt. The realization that so many of my companions were at the top of their game might also have had something to do with the lingering uneasiness that I felt. And then there was that old adage clamoring for attention:

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

Of course the fact that I can only be considered youthful when counting in reverse dog years might be at the root of such anxiety. Nevertheless, I find that I am far from prepared to be put out to pasture. Indeed, this might be especially difficult for someone like myself, who has far too often measured success as a function of business rather than personal life. I am likewise arrogant enough to believe that I still have something to contribute. 

I am therefore loathe to think that I am capable of letting down those who have placed their trust in me with this new opportunity. I will not embarrass them by offering gratitude for it, nor subject them to humiliation or 'guilt by association' by mentioning them by name here. I would be less than honest however, if I did not admit to a degree of apprehension at potentially failing to learn not only the technical aspects of this new position required, but the different sales responsibilities that this new position entails. 

I am informed that the next session of training, which begins in about ten days, will prove to be a potentially even more detailed and intensive experience. Let us hope for the sake of all involved, that this bit of 'fortune cookie' wisdom therefore proves itself specious; and that I will be neither a disappointment to those counting on me to disprove the accuracy of this proverb or to myself.


Roland Hansen said...

Mi Amigo Tim,
It seems to me that nowadays, you cannot teach a new dog old tricks.

Timothy W Higgins said...


My how you do 'turn a phrase'!

Roland Hansen said...

'Tis a far better thing I do to turn a phrase rather than to turn a trick.