‘Meeting Hell’ is a Real Place
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
Meetings Are Not The Same As Learning
Unfortunately, most managers today seem to think that meetings equal learning and vice versa. Moreover, I’ve worked for at least a few managers who actually believe that meetings are the key to business success. This means holding an ad hoc meeting to prepare for a scheduled meeting about which associates should attend future meetings.
I’m serious about this one. I once attended a meeting with two of my peers where our boss wanted to talk about the strategy we should use in an upcoming, larger meeting where we were scheduled to discuss meetings in general. There was some scuttlebutt that some of the regular weekly meetings were redundant; while other meetings had too many or too few stakeholders attending (in our boss’s mind).
To say I wish I had those 75 minutes of my life back would be an understatement.
For the leaders and wannabe leaders reading this book, you need to clearly understand that a “meeting culture” is not the same thing as a “culture of learning.” In fact, I will argue that the more meetings you hold the less you and your team are actually learning. Real learning begins with a desire to be taught; and forcing others to sit through some talking head presentation to review the blah, blah, blah from the quarterly blah, blah, blah does not build that desire. Just the opposite: it builds a desire to shut out the message and the messenger.
Learning is not a passive activity.
If I could give advice to a young business person (that I knew they would follow) it would be to fill every discretionary minute with learning: listen to audio books/podcasts in your car; read competitive news and information on your phone while sitting on the toilet; create and read Google Alerts for anything happening in your industry.
I can almost recite verbatim the Tom Peters books and seminars that I listened to over and over again in my car twenty+ years ago. I wore out those and any other success literature cassettes I could get my hands on. Today, my laptop, my Kindle, my iPad, and my iPhone are miniature libraries full of e-books, e-magazines and e-newspapers.
Learning, of course, requires action on the part of the learner. Adults cannot – regardless of how they “learned” in school – learn through osmosis. Even sitting in a well-taught training class does not mean anything unless you: a) want to learn; and b) actively engage in the material. This means hearing, viewing, understanding, and (especially) applying the knowledge shared.