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Ability

by Patrick McNerthney—Creative Director, Outcasting

“How am I going to attach a new fascia board to my house?” 

Sometimes we want to do something, but lack the expertise, materials or tools (i.e. “ability”) to do it. 

Thus, when the stupid fascia board I hate literally fell off my house, I just sat there and wondered if I could convince my wife it looked better this way. 

 

Missing fascia board

(Looks absolutely fine.)

 

Really, I just didn’t want to exert any energy in learning, in acquiring the requisite skills, no matter how temporary, to fix it. 

No ability needed here, no thank you. Because to gain some ability through learning requires WORK. Ugh.  

What’s tragic, for the chronically lazy like me, is the Internet. 

YouTube in particular offers a plethora of folks willing to walk one through the how-to’s of everything from attaching a new fascia board to growing hothouse tomatoes.  

This blows up the notion of ability and using the lack thereof to rationalize avoiding challenges. 

It’s as if we’ve spontaneously taken a truth serum: “I can’t do it because I don’t know how” becomes “I can do it, but I don’t want to put forth any effort to learn how.”

So the real ability, the real skill to master that opens doors to possibility, is learning.

Let’s say you want to provide a new activity for your residents—something new and exciting that creates a connection between them and the outside world. Perhaps recording a 30-second video of each resident recalling their experience of a past historic event. Shared with high-school students, this can provide great context for a subject the students are studying in history class. 

All of the elderly (or any large group of people) are very open to trying new things, right? Easy! All you have to do is get up there, tell them about your video idea, they’ll jump onboard, and you’re off to the races!  

Nope!  Getting folks to join in requires a sale, a skill you can learn with practice.

Go ahead and ask your favorite used car salesman—they’re easy to make fun of, but they learned how to sell, then made it a habit, so now it’s an ability.   

used car salesman

(Avid learner, possibly untrustworthy.)

 

That’s right, salesmanship is not a natural, innate talent. It’s a skill, a learnable thing we can get “good” at through our effort to acquire ability. 

And when it’s coupled with empathy, it’s very powerful, and very altruistic. 

In your case, salesmanship is a skill that greatly increases your ability to create positive change for those in your care—like creating the willingness to record that 30-second video for the history class.  

Just like my fascia board, if you don’t have the ability, there’s plenty of people out there ready to teach you—for free. 

Sure, there’s work involved, but never in our history has knowledge been more freely shared and ability so readily obtained.