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Learn from Others

Life is too short to try to learn everything on your own. It takes too long to learn everything the hard way—the hard way is generally the long way, full of trial and error. Learning from repeated failed efforts is exhausting. Motivation dies a slow death. Repeated efforts that don’t pay off eat up time, money and energy.One of the best lessons you can learn is to benefit from the wisdom and experiences of others. This is not copying what they do or making yourself a knock-off version of someone else. It means that you take the shared wisdom of others and apply it to your own experiences in order to minimize failures and maximize progress.There are three basic ways you can learn from others regularly:READ Reading gives you access to the thoughts, experiences, and wisdom of people with whom you otherwise would never have the opportunity to engage. Some people with the best wisdom for you have died, but through their writings, you can still access their thoughts and perspectives. Some experts in your field you would never be able to personally access, but you have virtually unlimited access to their experiences through their books.Perhaps you are one of those who don’t take advantage of this path to learning because you think you are too busy to read. You might be surprised to know that General James Mattis, a military man, told a fellow officer: “The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men. We have been fighting on this planet for 5000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. “Winging it” and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of incompetence in our profession.”If someone in an active profession like the military finds such value in learning from reading, perhaps you should consider it.LISTEN TO PODCASTS, ATTEND CONFERENCES Podcasts and conferences are buffets of information. You can consume to your heart’s content. The good thing is with a podcast, you can consume and learn while you are doing other things. While you must spend time and money on a conference (sometimes the wisest expenditure of money you will make), you can learn for nothing or practically nothing while you do chores, drive, or even work out. You can maximize your time by hitting a couple of things at once. If the podcast is so full that note-taking is required, you can pause and do that very thing.Specialized conferences are good investments from time to time. You can gather in a group to learn from those further along in your friend, and then the group conversation and processing will fast-track your education.FIND MENTORS. Finding a good mentor is not easy, but it is well worth your best effort. A mentor is someone who is skilled in areas where you need to learn and grow, and will spend time with you, sharing their acquired knowledge. Because you can actually interact with them, a mentor can give you specific advice for a specific situation. If you come prepared with your questions to meet with them and make wise use of the time. They will likely be willing to invest in you over an extended period of time. They will enjoy your growth as well.You can major on learning the way most people do--by getting them wrong and setting yourself back. But it doesn't have to be that way. if you can learn the lessons before you make the mistakes, you can gain the advantage that much earlier--and free yourself from the struggle of getting it wrong. You do that by being hungry enough and humble enough to learn from others.

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