S:0768 Distinction: How It Works vs. How To Work It

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Sure, knowing how to work something is useful, whether that something is an iPhone app, a recipe for a great entree, a sophisticated piece of machinery, or…a life.

When you know how to work something, you know how to follow a list of instructions or procedures which are supposed to lead to a successful conclusion. If everything happens as intended, if there are no malfunctions, and if the designer of the instructions thought of all the possible conditions, then you will probably enjoy the outcome. But merely knowing “how to work it” is not enough when unexpected things happen. That’s when you want to know how something works.

When you understand things at that deeper level, you have a competence and confidence which gives you the ability to adapt to changing conditions, see new formats in old situations, and create successful new strategies on the spot.

The key word here is confidence. Have you ever had a piece of technology cease to function as expected, even when you followed the correct procedure? Frustrating, isn’t it? Not knowing “how it works” can leave you stuck and not very confident.

No, your life didn’t come with instructions. And you’ve probably settled into routines that work OK; except when they don’t! That’s when you want to know who you really are, what your life is really about, and what you really want. Knowing those things opens the door to knowing “how it works.”


Coaching Point: Do you have any examples of this Distinction in your life experiences?


Copyright 2010 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.