Can You Give Me an Example?

How do you know when one of your colleagues truly understands a new concept? Really grasps a new idea? The answer lies in your ability to think of and offer examples. 

Examples and illustrations are powerful tools to broaden and deepen learning. They reflect what we grasp and what we do not. Examples provide a context from which others can connect to their own experience. The more complex the idea, the more important examples become to imprint new knowledge. 

When we can’t create examples, it’s usually because we missed the point. We understand generally but not specifically. We don’t yet grasp the idea and how to apply it. This application is essential. Generating examples requires a clarity in thinking. Through examples, we demonstrate this clarity when we can reproduce a new concept by showing how it applies across different situations and settings. 

The more examples we can think of, the more relevance we create for others. Showcasing how our understanding works in application makes the ideas even more interesting and relatable.

Because examples require us to reproduce an idea in a different form, they are the best test as to whether we fully have internalized the concept. You don’t truly understand something until you can give an example — or two. Can you me give an example?