“See one, do one, teach one.” If I recall correctly, that was a line I first heard years ago on an episode of “ER” – one of my all-time favorite TV shows – by a doctor who was encouraging and guiding a medical student in a procedure the med student had never done before.

The line came back to me last weekend when I was in the “See One” phase of a training I’m now going through.

I haven’t switched careers and started med school. The training I was taking part in is to become a “Lead Like Jesus” Facilitator, which is something that’s been on my “To Do Someday” list ever since my first trip to Uganda in 2011, where I attended and assisted with a number of the Encounters that were presented there. “Lead Like Jesus,” is a program that teaches and embraces servant leadership, and promotes the life of Christ as the greatest leadership role model of all time. One of the most meaningful parts of the program for me is the section about “The Way of the Carpenter,” which explains and describes different stages of leadership development. I return to that often, especially when I’m starting or learning something new and have to go back to being a beginner – or “novice”—all over again.

Last weekend’s Encounter was different than any of the ones I attended before. Instead of being a participant taking an active role in the program, or an assistant ready to help the facilitator with any behind-the-scenes needs, I was planted at a separate table in the back of the room. I was following along in both the participant’s workbook and the facilitator’s guide, and I had with me a notebook of my own and a stack of post-it notes that I used to mark places where I had reminders for myself, and questions for the facilitator who was training me.

At first it was difficult for me to refrain from participating, or from raising my hand in response to questions, comments, or invitations for input. I’m used to being an active participant in groups like this, and it felt strange – and restraining – not to be. But I quickly realized how important and valuable it was for me to simply sit back and observe. Not just to watch, but to learn. And not just from the facilitator, but from the participants.

I suddenly remembered another quote from a long-gone writer and satirist, who said, “Those who can – do. Those who can’t – teach.” I also realized how incorrect this thinking is. It’s true that there are people who are good at doing something, but lousy at teaching it to others. And there are people who are excellent at teaching, but are not superstar “performers” themselves.

However, there are some people who do excel at both, and if you are learning from someone like that, you are very fortunate indeed.

And I am. The person I am learning from is excellent both at facilitating the Leadership Encounters and at training others to be facilitators – which means I get a wonderful role model as a bonus.

So it won’t be long before I am co-facilitating LLJ Encounters, and eventually leading my own. Some of this will happen during my next trip to Uganda, but I’m also looking forward to future Encounters here at home. And I know that the leadership and facilitating skills I develop in the process will help me in other areas of my life as well, both personally and professionally.

I don’t remember exactly what the procedure was that the medical student on ER was doing. But since he turned out to be an excellent doctor who later taught procedures to other medical students, we can assume that the “See one, do one, teach one” model is a good one to follow. Especially for those who want to lead.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on June 6, 2014.
©Betty Liedtke, 2014

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