• Knowing why it is I am doing what I am doing
  • Recognizing how the interaction of underlying factors and assumptions impacts our work
  • Asking questions to clarify “the why” beneath a request


FFL is a team of expert E-rate Guides. A lot is expected of an E-rate Guide. Among other things, we are expected to be knowledgeable, deliberate, well reasoned, and proactive. Our clients expect us to help them succeed, keep them safe, and generally watch out for their interests. Oh, and we are expected to be prepared for the unexpected. As I said, a lot is expected of an E-rate Guide.

To fulfill this responsibility, it is important that we understand. We need to understand what, when, where, why, and how we do what we do. We are expected to do our work with purpose, not “just because” or “well, we’ve always done it that way.” We need to understand.

Understanding represents a deeper level than knowledge. It involves comprehending the important factors involved in a situation, knowing the facts about those factors, being able to put those factors into context, and properly acting on them. Did you follow all that? It sounds more complicated than it actually is.

I think the best way to understand “understanding” is to illustrate it. Think about the weather. Let’s assume that it is 85 degrees and sunny outside. (Nice thought, eh?) Just because we know what the weather is like doesn’t mean that we understand the weather. If I understood the weather, there would be much more to the story than “it’s nice outside”:

  • I could tell you lots of facts about the weather (e.g. current weather, yesterday’s weather, historic weather for today)
  • I could explain to you why it is so nice outside today (e.g. a low pressure front is settled over the region and the jet stream is blasting Canada right now).
  • I could accurately predict what the weather will be like tomorrow (e.g. it will be cold and rainy because there is a giant “H” moving towards us on the map.)
  • I could tell you the probability of a storm and explain various possible outcomes.
  • I could give you a list of data points and information that I need to know in order to prepare a weather forecast (e.g. location, time of day, surrounding weather data, yesterday’s temperatures, etc.)

Understanding involves much more than knowing a few facts. True understanding involves knowing what it is I need to know, having the relative facts that I need, putting those facts into their proper context, and being able to predict how changes in the situation will impact the future.

At FFL, we seek to understand the needs of our school customers (and their students), the E-rate rules, FCC regulations, the state of technology, and a myriad of other factors, so that we can properly guide our customers and help them achieve success.

Got it? I hope you understand what I am trying to say. ;-)

Key words and phrases

Comprehend the information; Insight into the circumstance; Discern the meaning; Realize the importance; Grasp the significance; Perceive the implications; Make sense of the facts; Realize the situation

Opposite terms

Ignorance; Lack of understanding; Failure to comprehend; Miss the point


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