Stupid Skateboard

Growing up, one of my favorite things was going to the grocery store with my Mom. We always made time to check out the magazine aisle, and I’d go straight to the skateboard publications.
Every birthday and Christmas I’d ask for one, and eventually my parents gave me one from Wal-Mart. I spent weeks riding it up and down our street trying to do the most fundamental trick: the Ollie.
The skater jumps up, and the board follows. When done properly, it looks like pure magic.
I could never get it right! I tried jumping while moving. I tried jumping while standing still. I tried facing left. I tried facing right.
I fell down more times than I can count.
Eventually I figured it out: while the board was fine to get around on, it wasn’t designed to do tricks. I wasn’t the problem; it was the board’s fault! Stupid skateboard!

Until One Day

My brother (4 years older than me) and one of his friends came home after school. His friend asked if he could try my board, so I said yes.
He proceeds to do trick after trick. Ollies, kick-flips, you name it he could do it.
I was stunned, and that was the instant I learned a valuable lesson:

Just because I didn’t know how to use a tool doesn’t mean it’s not capable of doing its job.

In Business

I see this all the time in my consulting. People are convinced that:

  • Email marketing doesn’t work
  • Facebook ads are useless
  • Twitter is dead
  • Nobody reads blogs anymore
  • LinkedIn never leads to anything
  • The era of making phone sales is dead

And so on down the list it goes with people who may have dabbled in a particular approach, and failed to get results. It’s easier to believe the tool is broken instead of admitting their lack of skills in execution.

Moving Forward

I continued skateboarding for years after that afternoon (until I had a massive wipeout that left scars I still have today). I never really got good at doing tricks, but it was a fun way to get around campus when I went to college.
What I didn’t do, though, is ever blame a tool for my lack of skills again.
Do you have a tool, technique, or strategy that you love using that other people think is done for? I’d love to hear about it! 

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