Today’s near enemy lesson is about how to know when something is a tool vs. a crutch. A tool is something you use from a point of strength while a crutch keeps you weak over the long term. This shows up a lot in every aspect of my work but it shows up the most when I’m doing teacher training classes.
Tool (n.) – An object that adds or makes your current strengths more efficient or allows them to be shown in the best light.
Crutch (n.) – An object that fills in the gap of your weakness and allows you to function temporarily at a higher level than you are capable of without it.
Speaker and teacher training
I have to emphasize the difference between these two the most when I do speaker and teacher training. When I first start working with people to improve their public speaking, I ban PowerPoint. PowerPoint can either be a tool or a crutch depending on how it is used. Most people, however, use it as a crutch. They put their entire speech on the slides and simply read through. When I take PowerPoint away, I know pretty quickly how good a speaker someone actually is.
If someone can’t give an amazing speech through oration alone and they need the slides to keep them on track, then I know PowerPoint is a crutch and not a tool. From then on out, they aren’t getting PowerPoint back until they show me it will add to their speech and not just be their speech. Some people embrace this growth and some want to really fight me. People don’t like getting their crutches taken away. Sometimes the joy of teaching is not being popular for a while so that someone can grow.
What in your life is a crutch and what is a tool?
As you think about the difference between tools and crutches, look over your own life. Make a list of the tools you regularly use to accomplish your daily activities. Which enhance what you do and which are only filling in the gap? Be honest with yourself.
Learn the difference between a tool and a crutch.
Mondays – Near Enemies
Many virtues have a near enemy. These near enemies masquerade as the actual skill and are often unhealthy or unhelpful in the long term. Near enemies create a false separation. A true virtue creates a closeness to others or even your best self.
My Writing and Other Resources for Students
A growing collection of writing and other resources for students to use to continue their growth.