Something to Learn
The current world is becoming very polarized and divisive. There is an increasing trend of people to think and act as groups, instead of as individuals. The subtleties of unique individualism are being concatenated into “black” and “white” or “Republican” and “Democrat.”A The problem that is created by this brand of mass conformity is that people stop looking to learn from people that are not a part of their group.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is famous for his belief that every person possesses some talent that exceeds his own, and that each interaction with another person gave him an opportunity to learn. I believe that it would be wise for each of us to extend this philosophy into our own lives. There is an unfortunate tendency in popular culture that has created a “cult of success” where people that show their financial affluence are worshiped and followed religiously by people who think that copying every facet of that person’s life will make them equally successful.
One of the important points that people frequently overlook is that luck plays an important part in many stories of fabulous success, and another even more prescient point to understand is that many things in life are more important than money. Of all the important things that are ignored, this is probably the most frequent occurrence. The reason for this is because wealth is quantitative … it is some thing we can easily measure. However, relationships are qualitative … there is not a simple way to measure the quality and value of our relationships. Unfortunately, this leads many to believe that the qualitative relationships possess less value because their value is difficult to compute.
In practice, the purpose behind building quantitative wealth is for the nurturing and maintaining our qualitative relationships. Because of this, lifetime learning takes on an entirely new context. Our learning takes on a magnitude that is much greater than simply earning money. Because of this, the context of learning takes on two distinctive flavors … namely, learning what we “should” do and learning what we “should not” do.
Learning What To Do
It is important for us to seek out people whose holistic success we wish to mimic. One pitfall that we must seek to avoid is the belief that the we can mimic a certain aspect of a person’s life without any spillover to other sections of our lives. In truth, everything that we do has some impact on everything else that we do. As such, when we are seeking coaching and mentoring, we should think in the context of both the skills we want to build and the person that we want to become.
Learning What Not To Do
An equally important aspect of learning is learning what we want to avoid. In this way, we can shape the form and direction of our personal, professional, and financial lives. The problem that many people encounter is an excessive emphasis on the factors that create external signs of success, but ignore the relationships and personal growth that is not on display to the public. It is not a secret that many affluent businesspeople and celebrities are very unhappy, in spite of their financial success. Thus, we see that in some cases learning what NOT to do can be just as powerful as learning what behaviors to mimic.
In the end, there are tremendous opportunities for gain available to people with the humility to constantly seek learning opportunities. It is worth noting that these opportunities are not always easy to embrace, since they frequently involve admitting that previously held beliefs and actions were ill informed, rashly decided, or simply wrong. These are not always the most pleasant of thoughts to embrace, but people who are willing to undertake this thought exercise will reap great rewards over the tenure of their lives. It is certainly true that there is something we can learn from everybody, and that developing the discipline to learn will enable each person to walk on a path of constant improvement.