Optician Success 27
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein
I get to be lazy this week. John and Seth are filling in. Note: While John says some nice things about me, take them with a grain of salt. I think he was on a runner’s high or something when he wrote this. Then again, he also called me a Galapagos turtle, so… there’s that. Enjoy.
Badgers, Turtles, and The ABO
What do you get when you cross a badger, Seth Godin and a Galapagos turtle?
Keith is a pretty amazing boss. He is also an odd mix of endless tenacity, intelligence and a temperament that is pretty much the exact opposite of my own. Through that unique mix, he is able to sway your understanding of something without your ever realizing that it is happening, kind of like the way one moves a battleship, or water wears away a stone. Me, well: patience is not something I am very familiar with. If I needed to turn a battleship around, I’d get a bigger battleship and give it a nice shove. I prefer wearing away stone with high-explosives (another story for another time). As my family says, if John says he is going to do something, you better get out of the way - that instant! I’ll save some of those stories for another time too, like the one about the time I tore the windows out of the front of the house.
The first time Keith worked his magic was when he first approached me about joining OpticianWorks and Laramy-K. As he will attest, I did everything in my power to dissuade him from doing that. I had given up on the site, which had seen an enormous amount of use, but couldn’t support itself. I told him I had, “dragged it out back, put a bullet in it and buried it.” In his way, over the course of several months (not days, not weeks), he nudged this stubborn battleship around, and what you see is the result of that.
The second time he worked his magic was when he swayed my understanding of the ABO. As many of you know from some of my posts back on OptiBoard, I was full of vitriol for the ABO. I blamed them for every problem we have in opticianry, and even a few that have nothing to do with it! I could do a line-item list here, but with Keith’s help, I’ve come to understand that the list doesn’t really matter much anymore.
My shift in understanding came from coming to terms with these ideas:
A certificate is only worth what the industry it exists for recognizes.
A certifying body has no responsibility to the industry it claims to represent.
A certifying body does not exist to support an industry or act as a watchdog, gatekeeper or steward of that industry.
The industry must self-select what certification matters.
These are all things that I thought of in the opposite way. Boy, I sure am obstinate sometimes.
These reflections all hinge on point one above. As Keith pointed out, there are IT certifications that guarantee an instant six-figure income. The IT industry recognizes that certification has high-dollar value. It is the industry that dictates the value of the certification. It is not the individual getting the certification or the certifying agency.
Do I now like the ABO?
Do I now recommend the ABO?
Do I think the ABO is a good idea?
Have I stopped blaming the ABO for problems that we have created ourselves?
Yes; yes, I have.
Key thing here: We, you, me, everyone reading this, we are the individuals, who, together, make up our industry. It is up to us to assign the value of the ABO. The test value comes only from what we give it. And, sadly, we give it enough value that it acts as a standard for optician competency. We have set the bar kind of low!
Why do we need to address the ABO problem? The ABO exam is much like the “must get a license” mindset I wrote about last time. If an individual, for whatever reason, believes they need to pass the ABO, nothing will change that belief. But we must change the conversation from, “I must pass the ABO,” to “I’d like to get my ABO certification as proof of my interest in opticianry.” Just like the license, the exam must become a part of the goal - not the only goal.
OpticianWorks is about raising the value of the optician. Until we have certification choices for opticians we can only plant the seeds of change.
What can we do to help raise the value of opticians?
We should help those individuals as much as we can to pass the ABO.
Hence our free Ultimate ABO Study Guide
If you are acting as a mentor for anyone preparing for the ABO, be sure to use case-studies and real world examples to teach the concepts.
Follow every lesson with, “Once you pass the exam we will come back to this subject again and review on how we will actually use it.”
And then, the moment they pass the exam, congratulate them. Talk about that accomplishment. Review how they got where they are. Then, plot a course for where they want to go. You can use the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Rock Star Optician, or simply plot a course on your own.
Education is the answer
It almost doesn't matter what the question is, really.
Everyone is an independent actor, now more than ever, with access to information, to tools, to the leverage to make a difference.
Instead of being a cog merely waiting for instructions, we get to make decisions and take action based on what we know and what we believe.
Change what you know, change what you believe, and you change the actions. Learn to see, to understand, to have patience, and you learn to be the kind of person who can make a difference.
Formal education is a foundation, but lifelong, informal education can transform our lives.
And informal education scales. It spreads more easily than ever before. Educated people create other educated people. The standards go up when education is present, because the cost of being the least educated person in your tribe is high.
Ignorance, on the other hand, can spread as well. When the cultural dynamic in your circle is that ignorance is prized, it will pull others down and lead to more ignorance.
We can learn techniques, sure, but also empathy, curiosity and patience.
Arguing is futile, because arguing presumes that we can use force of will to change minds. And force begets force. Education, on the other hand, involves enrollment, and volunteers in search of answers can learn quickly.
The path forward, it seems, is to connect. To earn enrollment in having others join you in a journey of education. If you can teach something, find someone who will benefit and teach them. And if you can connect and make education accessible, it creates a new standard for the people you care about.
The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson. – Tom Bodett
is next week. We’ll be taking a little (not too much) time off to spend with family and friends. Thank you for reading Optician Success and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write back with your support and unique perspectives. I enjoy hearing from you. I hope you too, can take a little time to focus on what really matters and be thankful for what we have.