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PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMART—Building a Future Together

SMACNA and SMART innovate to capture market share in the education sector

July 2019


PartnersINProgress SMACNA & SMART—Building a Future Together

JOSEPH SELLERS, JR. NATHAN DILLS Co-Publishers KAARIN ENGELMANN editor@pinpmagazine.org Editor-in-Chief

7 Photo credit: Kenny Torres.

CONTENTS

July 2019 - Volume 13, Number 7

3 SOLID PARTNERSHIP Partnerships can define an industry and show the world that quality and

expertise start here.

4 SMACNA AND SMART: SUCCEEDING IN THE SCHOOL MARKET Maintaining market share in the education sector requires collaboration,

teamwork, and a little ingenuity.

7 WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD A STRONG

THE CLEVELAND LATINO CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM S MACNA Cleveland and Local 33 work together to promote the Cleveland Latino Construction program and its sheet metal worker component.

9

SPOTLIGHT ON TABB

to contractors and craftspersons.

The youngest of TABB certification bodies is making waves and bringing value

11 HOW EXPERIENCE IS ACTIVELY BUILT 

Learning from mistakes requires effort, discipline, and persistence.

JESSICA KIRBY jkirby@pointonemedia.com Editor POINT ONE MEDIA INC. artdept@pointonemedia.com Creative Services ERIC WESTBROOK Cover Illustrator

Partners in Progress is a publication of the Sheet Metal Industry LaborManagement Cooperation Fund. All contents ©2019 by the Sheet Metal Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Fund, P.O. Box 221211, Chantilly, VA 20153-1211. Find Partners in Progress online at pinp.org or at issuu.com/ partnersinprogress. An archive of all issues is available and printed copies may be ordered for a minimal fee. For comments or questions, email editor@pinpmagazine.org.

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Solid

Partnership

Advice is rampant on being an example, walking the walk, and staying true to one’s goals and character. These are certainly words of wisdom and can be important in how we develop as individuals, but let’s not forget the importance of the messages we send to the world and others via our behavior. Conducting ourselves with integrity and prioritizing collaborative efforts demonstrates that we are a powerful force, an example of genuine expertise, and the only place to look for the highest quality. In essense, we teach people what we are capable of and how to treat us. It is easy to get stuck looking inward or at a microcosmic example of conflict or upset, but when we do that we are only addressing an inner need for control; we are not doing the industry or the greater community any good. Staying stuck means conveying the impression that disagreement rules the day and that being right is more important than doing the right thing. When we live in the problem, this is the message heard by the construction community, building owners, and potential new recruits. But when we come together for solutions, demonstrate flexiblity to save the day, and invest time and money into bettering ourselves and our teams, we are sending a different, brighter message: this is an industry where progress, innovation, and cooperation are the norm. Ours is an industry where ideas are shared and solutions are the focus, and those experiencing similar issues can learn by our example—this is the message we send, not out of arrogance, but out of confidence that doing the right thing is the only way to move forward. This issue of Partners in Progress is full of examples of highly functional, cooperative teams showing the greater community what solid partnership looks like. Local 36 and Integrated Facilities Services came together on an innovative school project to beat a labor shortage and make it well known that labor and management in the signatory sheet metal industry can and will do whatever it takes to complete high quality work and regain market share. This team met each obstacle with poise and ingenuity, and they put together a solid plan based on trust and a mutual end goal to get the job done. See page 4 for more. In an effort to proactively reach diversity goals in the sheet metal industry, SMACNA Cleveland and Local 33 visited the Spanish American Committee together to promote the area’s Cleveland Latino Construction program. They continue to work as allies on recruitment and other issues, which sends an important message to their communities and potential recruits: partnerships work. Read about this success story on page 7.

Those who have taken the time and made the investment into become TABB certified are finding countless opportunities, both in bringing additional valuable skills to the workforce and in securing new market share for businesses. Most importantly, having the certification means garnering respect from the engineering community and other specifiers. It demonstrates that these individuals care enough about their industry and their career diversity to be on constant lookout for ways to improve and bring higher skill and craftspersonship to the forefront of the industry. SMACNA and SMART professionals discuss the opportunities further beginning on page 9. And finally, what do we really mean by “experience”? The literal meaning is practice or repetition of a particular habit or action granting us the right to claim credit for having done that thing at least once before. But this has to be one of the most misused terms in history, because we often feel “experience” means “expertise” and these things aren’t at all the same. While the act of experience takes the will to complete the action, expertise is the result of experience plus effort, discipline, and persistence— the willingness to push hard through disappointment and failure to reap the benefits of internalizing experiential learning. That is the place from which inner stength and lasting partnerships arise. Read about how to get there on page 11. The 2020 Partners in Progress conference will highlight the many ways labor and management can build solutions for the way forward. Registration opens in September, and program details will be available shortly. Watch these pages for more info. ▪ LAST CHANCE: Contribute to the 2019 State of SMARTSMACNA Labor-Management Cooperation Survey In order to assess the perceived value of labor-management cooperation, find success stories, and ensure that the 2020 Partners in Progress Conference provides value to all attendees, SMACNA and SMART’s Best Practices Market Expansion Task Force is conducting the State of SMART-SMACNA LaborManagement Cooperation Survey 2019. It is available at surveymonkey.com/r/DMTVK6R and via Partners in Progress at pinp.org. All SMACNA chapters and contractors; SMART Locals, business managers and agents; JATC coordinators; apprentices, foremen, supervisors, and labor-management cooperation committee or trust members are requested to participate by Aug. 15, 2019. Results will be shared only in aggregate in SMACNA, SMART, and Partners in Progress publications. Direct questions to Kaarin Engelmann at editor@pinpmagazine.org. Partners in Progress » July 2019 » 3


SMACNA and SMART: Succeeding in the School Market

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By / Sheralyn Belyeu Photos by / Integrated Facility Services

illions of students in the United States attend schools with infrastructure problems, including wasteful HVAC conditions. With increasing interest in energy conservation, many school districts are taking a closer look at how to optimize their HVAC systems and improve indoor air quality, and they are looking for expert contractors and highlyskilled labor to complete this work. Every school renovation, upgrade, or building project offers opportunities for SMART and SMACNA members. Because science links positive indoor air quality with increased

4 Âť Partners in Progress Âť www.pinp.org

learning and employee morale, quality and attention to detail are paramount. Integrated Facility Systems (IFS) of St. Louis, Missouri, has current contracts in 13 municipal school systems and a wealth of experience in the school market.

The Helicopter Lift

Navitas Energy Consultants retained IFS to complete an energy conservation project at Pattonville High School that included removal of 32 HVAC units and installation of 38 rooftop units. Pattonville High is the largest high school in Missouri, but it


“Safety was our first consideration,” said IFS Project Manager, Jay Edwards. “We scheduled the lift for winter break when no students or faculty would be on campus, and we secured all loose material in the area to prevent debris from flying in the helicopter’s rotor wash.” doesn’t have space on campus to locate a crane. To solve this problem, IFS contracted a St. Louis helicopter company to lift the project’s new rooftop units into place. “Safety was our first consideration,” said IFS Project Manager Jay Edwards. “We scheduled the lift for winter break when no students or faculty would be on campus, and we secured all loose material in the area to prevent debris from flying in the helicopter’s rotor wash.” Careful preparation allowed IFS to lift 70 pieces of equipment in two hours with the minimum number of flights. They are on schedule to complete the Pattonville High renovation in time for school to start in August.

Labor Shortages and Tight Schedules

Working safely with a helicopter crew is just one challenge IFS has overcome. “Last year I realized that we had more school jobs than we could fulfill,” said IFS’s Manager of Production

Dana Griffin. Missouri schools start summer break in June, and students return in August. The mechanical work must be done by mid-July to allow time for the other trades. When Griffin broke the projects down into the calendar, he found that he needed eight additional craftspersons to complete the work on time and within budget. Griffin realized that the problem was trying to finish the entire project during the summer break. In order to complete it on time, he would have to start work before school let out. Beginning in April, he sent crews of two or three to the schools as soon as students left for the day. At first the crews did preliminary work, but IFS quickly saw how successful they were and moved to actual construction. “We were like the elves and the shoemaker,” Griffin says. “We cleaned up so carefully that teachers and students didn’t even know we had been there.”

Knowing Limits

The average school board member is not in the construction trades and may not fully understand the process, and this can lead to disappointment. Recently IFS declined an exclusive bid for a school project because the time frame was impossible, Griffin says. “The engineering alone would have taken three to four weeks. It’s hard to turn work away, but if you’re going to fail, it’s better not to commit. You don’t want to let your client down or to lose money.”

Communication

IFS heads off potential problems by building strong relationships. “A good contractor is the owner’s friend,” Griffin says. “The contractor should be a trusted advisor throughout the process.” IFS gains trust by communicating with everyone from the school board to faculty members and janitorial staff, and it holds weekly planning meetings on site to keep school personnel on the same page. “The project manager and foreman need to plan at least two to four weeks out to allow enough time to notify the correct people for each phase of the project,” Griffin says. “Hopefully Partners in Progress » July 2019 » 5


SMACNA and SMART Succeeding in the School Market

School contracts can be challenging, but success brings great satisfaction. “School projects employ my members and give us hours,” says Ray Reasons, president of Local 36. “But more than that, some of our own children attend these schools.” you’ll be in constant contact with the regional engineer. School administrators are usually available year round in the school office. Administrators can provide contact information if you need to hunt anyone down. This year we had two interns from Southern Illinois University to support the project manager, including sending out texts, emails, and calls.”

High Quality

School contracts can be challenging, but success brings great satisfaction. “School projects employ my members and give us hours,” says Ray Reasons president of Local 36. “But more than that, some of our own children attend these schools. When Local 36 does a school project, we know that our children are comfortable and we know their air quality is up to our high standards.” Watch the video of the Pattonville High School helicopter lift at youtube.com/watch?v=1jm7qzw9vlU. ▪ A Colorado native, Sheralyn Belyeu lives and writes deep in the woods of Alabama. When she’s not writing, she grows organic blueberries and collects misspellings of her name. 6 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org


Working Together to Build a Strong Future

The Cleveland Latino Construction Program by Deb Draper Photos courtesy of Kenny Torres The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio, announced plans for a $946 million transformation on its main campus on the West Side of the city in 2014. Among other things, the project would include an 11-story, 264-bed hospital to be completed by 2022, and at its peak time requires 500 to 650 workers. At least 80% of the workers had to come from local Cuyahoga County—a minimum of 20% African American and 10% Latino—and at least one-third of the contractors, vendors, and suppliers had to be minority- or woman-owned businesses. This was going to be a challenge in an area that historically held low participation of Hispanics in registered construction apprenticeship programs. Many were unaware of opportunities, let alone how to access them, looking at barriers such as lack Partners in Progress » July 2019 » 7


Working Together to Build a Strong Future

“We’ve been reaching out to vocational schools, career fairs, Helmets to Hardhats, even regular high schools and counsellors, letting them know about the education, the apprenticeships, and opportunities we have to offer,” says Local 33 Business Manager, Todd Alishusky. “We’re looking everywhere.”

of exposure to the industry, inadequate transportation, and financial insecurity, and often without sufficient language resources. It would be no easy task to fulfill the requirements of this construction project, but it was also a huge opportunity for everyone. In response, the Spanish American Committee in partnership with the project’s construction manager, Turner Construction Company, the Construction Employers Association (CEA), and the Hispanic Contractors Association, developed the Latino Construction Program, directly providing a pathway for the Hispanic community to enter apprenticeships and find placement in the construction industry. During the six-week program, a dedicated instructor introduces participants to the many opportunities in the trades, an understanding of the local construction industry, and the purpose and importance of unions. Integrated language instruction assists those who may have previously worked in construction but don’t understand specific construction terminology in English. On-the-job safety training is an important part of the preapprenticeship training, and at the end of the program, graduates receive their OSHA-10 certificate along with individual personal protection equipment so they are ready to go to work. Of the 50 people who graduated from the first two classes that finished in 2018, more than 40 were accepted into apprenticeship programs. Some who had previous construction experience in Latin America were able to start as second-year apprentices, while others waited on specific jobs. A third class graduated in July this year. “This Latino Construction Program initiative is benefitting our industry in a big way,” says David Wondolowski, executive secretary for the Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council (CBCTC) . CBCTC represents 31 affiliated unions and district councils, including SMART Local 33. “One of our main objectives is to bring a more diverse workforce into the trades, and this program has already brought a lot of people into our apprenticeship programs.” Most of the program grads have gravitated towards carpentry or general labor, reflecting the work they did in Latin America, but Latino Construction Program Manager Kenny Torres is working to expand their horizons. “In the next class that begins in August, we plan to interject more trades and educate our members on the other directions they can go in the construction 8 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org

industry,” says Torres. “To that end, we’re looking forward to establishing a better relationship with SMART Local 33.” Local 33 Business Agent Todd Alishusky has been seeing a big demand for sheet metal workers all across the board, especially in the last six to nine months. “Everyone is looking for workers in all the areas of expertise. We’ve been reaching out to vocational schools, career fairs, Helmets to Hardhats, even regular high schools and counsellors, letting them know about the education, the apprenticeships, and opportunities we have to offer,” Alishusky says. “We’re looking everywhere.” This past February, Local 33 and SMACNA Cleveland met with the Spanish American Committee to provide information about the apprenticeship opportunities for a career in sheet metal and discuss setting up pre-apprenticeship construction programs. Tom Martin, president of SMACNA Cleveland and president of T. H. Martin Inc., agrees that the industry must be proactive in its recruiting techniques and that it must look at all the options available to help achieve its diversity goals. “At the meeting, we presented all the aspects of the sheet metal trade and the great opportunities that are available. We offered their organization an open invitation for their possible candidates to tour our local JATC to better understand our industry and all the different disciplines within the HVAC/sheet metal industry.” He adds that the Cleveland JATC fund is looking into the possibility of offering direct entry as a first-year apprentice if the six-week program qualifies, and the training includes HVAC 101, sheet metal fabrication, union education, and safety regulations. Even further, Torres sees the curriculum extending beyond construction workers. “We’re looking to complement this program and have the same type of approach for subcontractors,” he says. “We want to help and better prepare our current Hispanic contractors within the city to go to the ‘next level’ by focusing on building their profiles and connecting them to opportunities in subcontracting.” With the support of the entire construction community, after only 18 months, the Latino Construction Program is changing the face of Cleveland’s construction workforce, already bringing over $400,000 into the Hispanic community in payroll alone. But even more lasting and meaningful, it is this kind of forward-thinking cooperation and effort that continues to move the entire industry forward and foster well-deserved pride in its skills and accomplishments. ▪ From her desk in Calgary, Alberta, Deb Smith writes for trade and business publications across North America, specializing in profiles and stories within the mining, recreation, and construction industries.


Spotlight on

TABB Certification Why the youngest of the testing and balancing organizations is making waves

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ore than 50 years ago two gentleman from Ohio had an idea that would change the sheet metal industry. Disheartened by the way the mechanical systems they designed worked once installed, H. Taylor Kahoe and George E. Coultas decided to look into establishing a totally independent testing and balancing agency. In 1964, thanks to their efforts and other supporters within the industry, the Associated Air Balance Council (AABC) was formed. A lot has changed since then, thanks to major advances in technology and our understanding of energy efficiency and human safety and comfort. Other balancing organizations have also formed, including the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB), the National Comfort Institute (NCI), and the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB). Each publishes and advances procedures and standards that further define HVAC system performance measurement. For TABB, being the new kid on the block comes with its challenges, as well as its benefits. “As TABB is the youngest of the three major testing, adjusting, and balancing firms, we sometimes see a generational pushback, due in part to misinformation,” says Duane Smith, director of certification (ICB/TABB) at The National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC), a not-for-profit organization created in 1983 and sponsored by SMART and SMACNA. However, being relatively new means that TABB was able to learn from its predecessors, come to the table with a fresh approach, and adapt quickly to changing regulations. “A TABB contractor said it best when he told me, ‘a TABB technician understands the system from a sheet metal perspective and has had hands-on experience.’ Rather than being specialists, they

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By Natalie Bruckner

understand every aspect of the job, and this means they are perfectly positioned to provide effective testing and balance,” Smith says. Being the first and only ANSI-accredited HVAC testing, adjusting, and balancing certification program brings weight to the certification. So, too, does the fact that it conforms to ISO/IEC Standard 17024 Conformity assessment—General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons. TABB-certified professionals are recognized as the most competent, reliable, and qualified in the HVAC industry. By specifying utilization of TABB-certified technicians, contractors, and supervisors, engineers can ensure that their customers receive a product at the highest levels of quality. With TABB-certified technicians undergoing rigorous and ongoing training to ensure they remain up-to-date with the latest changes, there is great value to both the contractor and building owners. “In our area, being TABB certified results in engineers’ respect,” explains Mark B. Ellis, Jr, TABB supervisor at Air Moving Equipment Company in Las Cruces, New Mexico. “We have been able to do a lot of projects simply because of the reputation of TABB.” In fact, Ellis’ company is a perfect example of how being TABB certified opens up new windows of opportunity. Once a mechanical contracting firm, Air Moving Equipment Company now focuses on testing, balancing, and related work. “Being TABB certified really opened up a market for us to thrive,” Ellis says. “We are now working with companies that were once our competitors. It has made everyone here better at all facets of this kind of work, not just the balancing part. It Partners in Progress » July 2019 » 9


TABB Certification

lends you a thought process for different trades and what they do. You learn how to make things operate properly and get a broader look at the industry.” Those who have undergone TABB certification are discovering countless opportunities. The journeyman sheet metal worker who has achieved national certification in testing, adjusting, and balancing environmental systems is at the highest level of HVAC technical skill and knowledge, and that’s not going unnoticed. “I have apprentices who have taken the course, passed the test, and been picked up by a testing, adjusting, and balancing contractor full time almost immediately,” says Joe Frick, training coordinator at SMART Local 19 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joe Carone, SMART Local 265 instructor, says signing up for the testing, adjusting, and balancing class was one of the best decisions he has ever made as a sheet metal worker. “It made me a better foreman and led me to become a service technician,” he says. “Understanding airflow and pressures and how improper fittings can reduce and restrict air moving in the ductwork is an invaluable resource. Correctly installing the air delivery system will improve customer satisfaction and reduce energy consumption. It is very rewarding when you have the proper training to go into a situation and understand how to correct the issue properly.” Carone agrees that becoming TABB certified can also lead to different career paths inside the sheet metal workers’ union and make craftspersons more valuable to the contractor. Thomas E. Martin, president of T.H. Martin Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio, and president of SMACNA-Cleveland chapter, agrees that TABB certification has gained national respect. He adds that in today’s world, where there is a greater understanding of energy-efficient HVAC systems and the cost savings involved, the benefits of being TABB certified are becoming increasingly recognized by industry professionals and the general public alike. “Testing, adjusting, and balancing is very important for comfort and to ensure equipment is running efficiently,” he says. “This results in sustainable and energy efficiency practices and helps owners meet building codes.” In fact, so many building owners, general contractors, and facility managers are now aware of the benefits of testing, adjusting, and balancing that they are insisting that contractors be TABB-certified. “As a company it has multiple benefits,” says Matthew S. Cole, president of Wing’s Testing and Balancing Co., Inc. “I look at people who carry individual certifications as more valuable. We were not able to do government work at a Navy base unless we could prove our technicians, supervisors, and company were TABB certified. Jobs are won primarily on price, but when all the staff are TABB certified, it will win you the job every time.” 10 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org

Cole adds that it’s also a transferable certification, which means technicians can work in any state and be seen as valuable employees. With so many benefits, why is there still hesitance about becoming TABB certified? Quite simply, perceptions and time. While training is indeed intense, it is also extremely flexible. For example, Frick says Local 19’s training center offers a testing, adjusting, and balancing program that is a night course spread over two years to provide those working full-time with the opportunity to get certified. TABB works with over 150 training centers across the country for the training of techs. With TABB certification courses having evolved since they were first introduced, being certified is more beneficial than ever before. “Over 10 years ago, the classes and certifications went hand-in-hand,” Cole says. “TABB has moved away from that model. Now there is a separation between the training and the certification side, which is important. I’ve seen the progress as a result of certified testing, adjusting, and balancing contractors having to follow ASHRAE requirements for testing HVAC systems. The training is extremely valuable, and the certification has become much more defensible.” For anyone considering getting TABB certification, Cole says it’s a no-brainer. “We pay into apprentice and training funds as members of the SMART union and part of those funds pay for the training program. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?” Ellis says the initial time is well worth the return on investment. “If you are considering it, we encourage people to do it as, from our perspective, it’s the best organization to be involved with,” he says. “It’s like a brotherhood, a support network.” ▪ Natalie is an award-winning writer who has worked in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, the United States, and Canada. She has more than 23 years experience as a journalist, editor, and brand builder, specializing in construction and transportation.


How Experience is By Zach Morgan Reprinted with permission from ThinDifference. Read more at www.thindifference.com

Actively Built

I think a lot of people, myself included, take experience for granted. Many people figure that if you spend a lot of time doing something—working, for example—you’ll become experienced in that thing, you’ll somehow absorb prowess and competence via osmosis. No one really takes the time to discuss or ponder how experience is developed—I believe that it is actively built. Being experienced in something implies that you are good or highly competent at that thing. It assumes that you have made mistakes and subsequently learned from them. Indeed, the definition of being experienced isn’t all that complicated, but the process of building experience—and benefitting from that experience—is more complicated than you may think.

types of mistakes are prime examples of learning opportunities, which are the very foundation upon which experience is built. So, we’ve made our mistake, and we’re now presented with a learning opportunity. How do we bring observation into this, and how do we use it to capitalize on our learning opportunity? Begin by taking an inventory of the moment after the mistake occurs: Are we okay? Is everyone else okay? Good. What happened? How serious is the mistake? How does it make us feel right now? The answer to this last question is probably “not very good.” Naturally, we’ll want to avoid feeling this way in the future, which means we’ll need to find a way of preventing the mistake we just made from happening again.

Experience is More Than Passive Participation

Active Observation

The first and main thing experience requires, is observation— active observation and acknowledgment of learning opportunities. What do I mean by “learning opportunities”? Well, let’s say we just started a new job or just hired new recruits. When it’s our first week in a new position or we are just learning our new workforce, it’s natural to make mistakes. It’s also natural to panic a bit when these mistakes happen, but I don’t think we should panic too much in these early stages. First, most early career mistakes are not all that serious, and when we’re new, we benefit from a bit of slack. Second, these

Once the dust settles a bit, there are some other observations we should consider: What caused the mistake in the first place? What identifiable series of events led up to it? Was there a lapse in communication? Was it truly our fault? Was the mistake a random occurrence that we, unfortunately, had no control over? All things to consider, all things to learn from. I don’t mean to sound like I advocate dwelling on a mistake. Rather, give your mistake a good analysis. Chew it over, contemplate it, deconstruct it. But once you believe you’ve gotten to the bottom of it (or somewhere close), try your best to let it go.

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Experience is a Raw and Unrefined Product So by now, we’ve made our observations in light of the mistake (or learning opportunity) we’ve just experienced. We hopefully have a pretty good idea of how the mistake happened, why it happened, what led up to it, and how it made us feel. Here, in essence, we have “raw experience”: a new set of knowledge bestowed upon us by our mistake/learning opportunity. Great, but what good does it do? What benefits does it provide?

Benefits of Raw Experience Well, raw experience does indeed make us a little bit wiser, a little bit more seasoned for the challenges we’ll face in the future. A wider base of knowledge gives us perspective, I think, and certainly a boost of confidence. The more raw experience we gain, the better we’re able to gauge a situation. We’re able to interpret situations better and recognize when and why a mistake may occur. I’ve also noticed that a wider breadth of raw experience can work to reduce anxiety or stress levels. We’ll know when a situation or issue is common and doesn’t warrant any particular amount of stress. All in all, raw experience is good. It’s good to be wise, and it’s good to have a broader base of knowledge to draw upon in our professional or personal lives. But how do we draw from that knowledge and use it to inform our actions? What is required of us to ensure that our new knowledge yields more tangible benefits?

Experience Takes Effort, Discipline, and Persistence To improve our performance, prevent mistakes, and set ourselves up for success, we need to connect and integrate our raw experience with our actions. To do that, we need discipline, persistence, and, overall, effort.

Effort Let’s talk about effort first. As stated, raw experience gives us wisdom and knowledge, but those things are useless (in a practical sense) without action. There needs to be a connection between them. Let’s say you’re facing a familiar series of events, one you’ve seen a time or two in the past. You know this series of events has the potential to lead to a major issue; that’s your raw experience at work. But your knowledge alone isn’t enough to avoid the situation. You have to be willing to put in the effort to act, to preempt the issue that you see forming in front of you. This sounds obvious, I know, but it’s not always so easy.

Discipline When I was still new at my current job, I was constantly repeating this one, very specific mistake. It would happen time 12 » Partners in Progress » www.pinp.org

after time, and after each occurrence, I would tell my boss, “I know exactly what went wrong. I need to do better next time.” That was my excuse, my way out of chastisement: “I need to do better next time.” Then the next time would come, and I would fail to take action once again. I’d fail to be proactive and prevent the mistake, and then I’d be having the same conversation with my boss. I had the raw experience needed to know what was going wrong each time. I even knew what I needed to do to fix and prevent my mistake. My problem was a lack of discipline.

If we are disciplined in integrating our raw experience with consistent, satisfactory effort, then we’ll gradually see improvement.

To integrate our actions with our raw experience, we need effort foremost, and then we need to be consistent with that effort. We need to be disciplined. Discipline, in this sense, means we need to make an effort both when we feel like it and especially when we don’t. We need to have the mental fortitude on our laziest days to say, “I know I don’t want to do this right now, but it will only get worse later, so I might as well just do it.” As I’ve shown, discipline has been a big struggle of mine in the past, so I’ll consider this a reminder to myself. If we are disciplined in integrating our raw experience with consistent, satisfactory effort, then we’ll gradually see improvement. We’ll know that we’re preempting and preventing issues that nagged us in the past. We’ll see that we’re actually learning from our mistakes and making tangible progress because of it.

Persistence Lastly, after effort and discipline are established, we need to be persistent in integrating our effort with our raw experience. Persistence means that we continue to make an effort, continue to see the value in making an effort, even after we fail. Persistence means that we don’t abandon the entire endeavor following a lapse in judgment or momentary laziness. It means we recognize that one failure does not a setback make. Persistence means that we recognize our failures as additional opportunities to learn, grow, and make progress. ▪ Zach Morgan is a writer, editor, and recent college graduate living in San Diego, California. Check out his blog, Brew Gab and follow Zach on LinkedIn.


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