Knowing “how to kick” vs “where to kick”

19 Feb 2017 | Running a business

One of the main machines in a factory broke down. The factory owner got really worried as it was affecting production output. Many experts came to look but none could to fix it. Until one engineer called in and said he could try it but it would cost $15,060. The factory owner compared the quoted amount with the loss he would be incurred with each day that went pass without having the machine fixed, he sent him in without hesitation. The engineer got there, all he did was to give the machine a kick and the machine came back to life like miracle. While writing the cheque, the factory owner couldn’t fight the curiosity and asked, why had the engineer asked for $15,060, but not $15,000 or $15,500? And most of all, why did it cost so much for just a kick?

“Well, the kick was free,” replied the engineer. “Sixty dollars was for taxi ride. Then, fifteen thousand was for knowing where to kick.”

I heard this story from a business associate years ago; still my favourite till today. The underlying message is pretty clear: There is a difference between “knowing how to do something” and “knowing how to do something right”!

We are living in an exciting time where information has become so accessible, suddenly everyone can easily become an “expert”. Spend an afternoon on YouTube watching cooking videos and Jessica can become a chef. Download a copy of WordPress, pick a nice theme, install a bunch of plugins and Jeremy can become a website designer. But what both Jessica and Jeremy can’t attain instantly is experience. Because it takes time to gain experience.

Experience does not necessary mean mastery in one’s job. But with adequate experience, one is less likely to screw up. So I’m not talking about who can do better job than who. I’m talking about, when you work with someone who has more experience, both of you are more likely to achieve success together.

So, the next time you meet your potential customer, instead of talking about what you know (ie “I know how to kick”), focus more on what you have accomplished (ie “I know where to kick”). Because really, the world doesn’t need more people doing the same job, but more who can really solve problems.

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