You Can Teach an Old Dog a New Trick

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Blog, Outside the Box

A few weeks ago, I flew to Dallas to buy a new phone for my mother-in-law, Kitzi. With children and grandchildren scattered across the country, the family decided to get her an iPhone so it would be easier for her to keep up with us through pictures, text messages, and phone calls. We thought she would enjoy Facetime with her new great granddaughter who is learning to walk and talk.

Did I mention she is 93?

New things are always a little uncomfortable.

Sure you may be excited about about making a change, but there is always a learning curve. Kitzi was both nervous and excited. Anticipating the learning curve, I planned the introduction carefully. When we got the phone, I moved most of the apps off her home screen. Then we began practicing just two things, phone calls and texts.

There were moments when she felt overwhelmed, and we took a break and then dove back in. It was a long weekend. There were setbacks as she struggled to remember which button to push, or how long to hold down the home key to get back to the home screen or activate Siri. By Sunday, the practice drills were paying off. Muscle memory was starting to take hold. She was catching on.

Kitzi lives in a senior community and we discovered quite a few of her friends have iPhones. We reached out to a few of them and they agreed to be “on call“ to answer questions as she learned her new phone. She took a class offered by her community and other family members have been calling to help her practice her skills. I expect in a month or two, she will not remember what life was like without her iPhone. She may even be ready to use it to access the senior community web portal from her phone to see what’s for lunch or what activities are planned for the next few days.

Sure, this is a sweet story, but I am sure you are wondering why share it in a marketing blog? Here’s the connection. Whether you are starting a new job, launching a new business, or learning how to use a new software program, everything feels a little awkward. That’s natural.

Even small changes may feel awkward. I have used an iPhone for a decade, but when Kitzi got her phone, I upgraded to a newer iPhone. Without the familiar home button, I uttered more than a few choice words as I struggled to adjust to my new device. While she was practicing, so was I.

Change is inevitable. You may not be able to control the initial discomfort with the change, but there are things you can do to minimize how long it will last with a little preparation.

Anticipate that it will be uncomfortable.

  • Plan out responses to the awkward moments. If it is a new job, practice ice breakers and a brief elevator introduction of who you are.
  • Learning a new software application? Don’t try to master it all at once. Schedule time to practice and explore the features and take time away from it to process what you have learned.
  • Moving from a corporate role to owning your own business can be scary and lonely without your support network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Find mentors, other business owners, good friends, and even a consultant who can help you over the rough spots.
  • Keep at it and celebrate the small victories. It won’t go smoothly the first time, or maybe even the second but it will come together. Kitzi called me when I got home to proudly proclaim she had deleted the text messages she had read. It was her victory.

So if you are about to embark on something new, remember Kitzi, who at 93 can learn to use an iPhone, I am pretty you can handle any change that comes you way.

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