The current world is becoming very polarized and divisive. People tend to think and act as groups. The subtleties of unique individualism are being concatenated into “black” and “white” or “Republican” and “Democrat.” The problem with 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 known for a famous belief. 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 to our own lives. Contemporary culture has created a “cult of success” where people that show their financial affluence are worshiped and followed religiously.
One important point that people overlook is that luck plays an important part in many stories of fabulous success. Even more importantly, many things in life are more important than money. Of all the important things that are ignored, this is probably the most frequent. Wealth is quantitative … it is something we can easily measure. Relationships are qualitative … there is not a simple way to measure their quality and value. Unfortunately, this leads many to believe that the qualitative relationships possess less value because their value is difficult to compute.
In practice, the purpose of building quantitative wealth is nurturing and maintaining our qualitative relationships. (Isn’t it?) Because of this, lifetime learning takes on an entirely new context. 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 we can mimic a certain aspect of a person’s life without any spillover. In truth, everything that we do has some impact on everything else that we do. As such, when 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 important insight is learning what we want to avoid. In this way, we can shape the form and direction of our lives. The problem that many people encounter is an excessive emphasis on the factors that create external signs of success. Subsequently, they 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. It can be very powerful to learn what ‘not’ to do.
In the end, there are tremendous opportunities for gain available to people with the humility to constantly seek opportunities to learn. It is worth noting that these opportunities are not always easy to embrace. They frequently involve admitting that previously held beliefs and actions were ill-informed decided, or simply wrong. These are not always the most pleasant of thoughts to embrace. 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.