See one, Do one, Teach One. Do you SODOTO?
“We’ve got a MVA coming, burn injuries, ETA 10 minutes, let’s go!”
Years ago when I was a medical student on the trauma surgery rotation, this call came in. I was rounding with the trauma team on call when the chief resident and intern were paged simultaneously. We dropped everything and headed to the trauma bay in the ER. I was the only medical student on the team and I had no clue as to what I was doing or where I was going. As we arrived in the ER, the patient was being wheeled into the trauma bay by paramedics. Not knowing what to do, I stood in the corner next to the chief resident. I glanced at the patient and saw blood and burn marks all over his face and body. He’d been in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) and it was a fiery wreck. What followed was organized chaos.
A nurse went to work with scissors and cut off all the clothing. The paramedics shouted their report. Someone drew blood. A resident started intubation. The intern examined the body. Radiology took x-rays. The patient’s girlfriend was crying.
The chief resident shouted “Who’s got the foley?!” He looked at me. “Have you done one?”
I hesitantly replied, “I’ve seen one done before but…..”
“Good enough, it’s all you bud,” he interrupted.
Placing a foley catheter into the urinary bladder is one of the most basic medical procedures. But if you’ve never done one before, it might as well be brain surgery.
I ran through my mental checklist.
- Open tray
- Remove and check tubing
- Test balloon
- Open gel packet
- Squeeze gel onto tray well
- Open iodine packet
- Squeeze iodine onto tray well….
Wait, was it open iodine packet first THEN gel packet?
“Hurry up!” the chief yelled.
I was sweating bullets. I started to swab the penis with iodine but I must have been moving too slowly.
“Come on, we’re not giving the guy a bath here! Let’s see some urine! Let’s go!”
My hands were shaking at this point. I gently tried to slide the catheter into the penile opening but wasn’t having much success.
“Come on, just grab it, pull it up and push it in!” yelled the chief.
“Geez! Ok, ok. I got this” I said to myself. I finally pushed the tip through and urine flowed back into the tube. “Yes!!” I thought. “I’m the man!”
I started to clean up and move aside.
“Did you blow up the balloon Einstein?”
“Crap”, I thought. I forgot to blow up the balloon so the foley would stay in place.
Later at evening rounds, the team had a good time with the foley incident at my expense.
But the chief reassured me, “Don’t worry bud, next time it will go better”. For the rest of the rotation, I was known as the “Foley guy”. Well, by the end of the rotation, I was the foley master.
“See one, do one, teach one.” And so that motto carried me through the rest of my medical training. Thoracentesis, lumbar punctures, liver biopsies, paracentesis, suturing, chemoembolization, barium enemas, esophagrams, arthrograms, angiograms, and more. “See one, do one, teach one.” This method of learning has served me well and I’ve carried the practice over into my financial life. I’ve applied it to learn about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance, taxes, IRAS, profit sharing, and real estate.
At each step of SODOTO, there is a steep learning curve. Here is the graph of the learning process. As you progress through each phase, you get a deeper and more thorough understanding of the subject material.
This is the initial exposure phase where a subject matter learned. Learning can be achieved through books, lectures, podcasts, or a mentor. When I was learning about real estate, I read a number of books, articles, and blogs. There is a ton of information that is free online. I listened to hundreds of podcasts and webinars, all for free. I also learned from other real estate investors and sponsors, and each time, I’d either learn something new or see things from a different perspective.
No amount of education will truly prepare you for investing. This step is where many people stop because fear overcomes the initiative of taking action. It’s understandable of course. Real money is on the line. The fear of failure and risk of loss are powerful forces that can negatively influence our mindset and trap us in our comfort zone. But to be successful and grow, we need get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If we get past this “do” phase, our knowledge and understanding of a subject takes a big leap forward. The hands-on experience teaches us things we cannot learn in books. Doing something is usually completely different than simply reading about it..
To illustrate, when learning how to drive a car, you can read the entire vehicle manual and learn the rules of the road; but getting behind the wheel for the first time? Completely different experience. It’s the same with investing.
Every expert was once a beginner. Every seasoned investor guru once started with a first deal. My first equity deal was an eye-opening experience, filled with uncertainty, fear, and excitement. But the experience and knowledge I gained from actually doing a deal, and going through each step of the process was invaluable.
Novelty becomes routine and repetition builds experience.
This is the final phase of learning. When you teach something, you need to have a firmer grasp of the subject material. It’s not enough to know how to do something; you have to understand the why. This is difficult. For example, I can do fifth grade math well enough, but trying to teach it to a fifth grader? That’s hard. Adding and subtracting fractions requires a common denominator. Easy to do, but harder to explain why. You don’t necessarily have to teach another person to gain a higher level of knowledge. The mere act of writing things down on paper helps to reinforce understanding. For me, blogging about my investments forces me to analyze the numbers more carefully and perform more thorough due diligence on each deal.
So, what does this all mean? Don’t be afraid to learn something new. I see two main scenarios where people stop learning new things.
The first scenario is in people who have a fixed mindset. Carol Dweck talks about this in depth in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Fixed mindset people live on praise and have a fear of failure. If they are not good at something right away, they lose interest and give up. They focus on achievement. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset embrace challenge and view failure as a learning opportunity. They focus on learning as opposed to achievement.
The second scenario is in people who think they have arrived. A lot of high performing professionals like doctors, lawyers, and engineers have spent years learning valuable skills. But once they reach their goal of a high paying job, the learning drops off. Sure they keep up their education and skills in their respective field, but their curiosity and knowledge seeking in other subject matter fade away.
Don’t stop learning. Pick up something that sparks your interest and get started. Don’t know what to do? Look at the stack of books on your night table as a guide. What you read for pleasure is usually your area of interest.
Understand the learning process. There are different stages and depths of learning as I’ve outlined above. Take a page from the doctors’ playbook and do what doctors do. Think about SODOTO. When you start to learn something new, don’t succumb to analysis paralysis. At some point you have to just do it. Expect failure and setback, but don’t view it as such. And finally, write down your thought process or explain it to someone. This not only reinforces your knowledge, but takes it to the next level.
Until next time,
Invest in Life
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