The tool isn’t in your toolbox yet

When you read great advice, it hasn’t actually changed anything in your life…yet.

There are dozens of times each day when you might notice something. You might think,

“I should try that.”

“That was well-said.”

“I want to handle tough conversations the way she did.”

In the moment, you’re excited to learn something new. You think, “This is another tool in my toolbox. This is fantastic!”

But the tool isn’t in your toolbox yet.

You’ve picked up the tool, held it in your hands, looked at it.

Then, you put the tool down and walked away.

You see another shiny new tool, so you go over to that table, pick up that tool, and set it down. The cycle continues. Meanwhile, you pat yourself on the back for learning a lot.

If you actually want to keep the tool in your toolbox, you need to use the tool. If there’s not an immediate situation where you could use that tool, the next best thing is to think about when and how you’d use it. Imagine a situation in your own life where the tool would be relevant. The sooner you put the tool into practice, the more likely it is to stick.

The person who handed you the tool used it in a different circumstance. You can’t copy directly. She might have stronger hands than you, more nimble fingers, or used the tool for purpose X when you need to use it for Y.

If I hear a phrase that’s smart, I try to use it in conversation that day a few times. I want it to become part of my own vocabulary. It’s takes effort, but if you say out loud that you want to incorporate the phrase into your world, your friends and coworkers can support you. And you can do the same for them. [I mention phrases as a tangible example of a tool. I believe words can shape our thinking internally, and shape how we express ideas externally.]

It’s like getting a new haircut: when you leave the barber or salon, the haircut is always, always funky. It takes a week for it the hair to “get used to” being on your head and adjusting to your face.

It’s like that with new ideas, new words, new frameworks. You need to become one with this new tool.

It only becomes yours when it’s a natural part of how you think and act and behave. You can jot it in your notes, but if you don’t review your notes, they’re useless.

If it’s important enough, find a way to internalize the lesson now.

Keep the tool in your toolbox. Don’t give it back or leave it on the table.