Knowing Before Fixing

“You can’t repair something if you don’t know how it works.” These words of wisdom were shared by a city maintenance supervisor at a recent leadership class I delivered. We were discussing the characteristics of great leadership.

Not being gifted with much talent at all for fixing or maintaining things, I realized this simple practical statement ascends beyond “things” and also is true for people and relationships. Stephen Covey made famous the habit of “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The intention is similar … if I want to improve, fix, change, understand, alter, positively impact someone or something — it requires knowing how he/she/it works first! And knowing how someone or something works demands study, observation, learning, and analysis — it calls for investing time with the “owners manual” for that person or thing first, prior to getting out the toolbox and “fixing.”