UNDERSTAND THE REASON
  • 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

COMMENTARY
I’m going in a different direction with this article since my beloved Sooners came up woefully short in playoff game against LSU. To be fair, I don’t think there was a college team in the country who could have beat the Tigers. So, I will stick to my second most beloved topic in this week’s GuideMark article…mountains, lots of snow, and riding snow mobiles. 

Before I continue with the story, let me share a quick parenting experience with you. If your children are remotely similar to mine, then chances are you have asked them this question after they did something wrong or made a mistake…what on earth were you thinking? It’s likely your children responded the same way mine did when we asked them the same question…I don’t know! 

Early on, we learned to avoid asking our children a question we already knew the answer to. Instead, we approached each situation by letting them know we were more interested in having them focus on getting to the “why” behind their choices. To do that, we would tell them it was a given they would make many mistakes throughout their lives. Knowing this, we would emphasize that failure doesn’t come from the actual mistake, instead we would tell them the only failure was when they failed to learn the valuable lesson(s) from their mistake(s). 

This one statement had a twofold purpose. First, it let our children know that we expected them to make mistakes. Secondly, it taught them to redirect their attention from the mistake they just made to what lesson they could learn from their mistake. Ultimately, we wanted to equip our children with the ability to understand the “why” behind their actions. Said a little differently, the goal for our children was to “Understand the Reason” behind the choice/mistake they made, so they could avoid making the same mistake in the future. Little did I know these very words would come back to haunt me one sunny day this past January. 

Our latest snow mobile adventure had my wife, our oldest daughter, and me battling the elements in the frozen tundra of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Towards the end of our time on the snow machines, my wife was partially frozen and wanted to go back to the shop to warm up. Since we had about 45 minutes left on our time, my daughter and I decided to take advantage of the remaining time we had left to go have some fun. 

At this point, I mistakenly believed that I had developed superior riding skills, and that groomed riding trails are for novice riders like my oldest daughter. As with our last trip to the mountains, I quickly found out that I had an over inflated view of my skills when it came operating motor vehicles in the snow. We opted to take our sleds off the groomed trails to play around in an open field designated for riders with more experience. At this point, I’m sure many of our readers are asking…what could have possibly gone wrong? Well, if you read my article about taking Sherman the Suburban off-roading in the snow, then you probably already have a good idea about what happened to us. 

With approximately 30 minutes to spare, I had to make the dreaded call to my wife to let her know we were hopelessly stuck and needed her to have the Calvary come save us. Before I ended the call, I heard her ask me the same question I used to ask our children…what were you thinking Jeffrey (only a name she calls me)? To which I promptly replied…I don’t know! To be honest, understanding the “why” behind my past or current decisions wasn’t on my mind. We saw an opportunity to have some fun, so we headed for the tree line and didn’t look back.

We are at the point in the article where I have to tie this story into the GuideMark I’ve been tasked to write this week. For our clients, they rightfully have an expectation that we will help guide them through all the potential compliance pitfalls they could encounter throughout the funding year. To honor our commitment to them, we need to ensure that we ask all the appropriate questions, so we understand their individual needs. Making assumptions on our end or failing to get to the “why” beneath a request could cause our clients unnecessary delays in receiving funding for their applications, or worse, our lack of understanding could cause them to miss out on receiving E-rate funding all together.  

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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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GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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