What did you learn?

How do we learn?

We can learn by experience.

Mark Twain said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

A fighter pilot friend of mine said “you won’t live long if you have to make all the mistakes yourself”. That would be learning from other folks experience. That might be called wisdom. A better solution. Learning from others mistakes involves getting them to tell you stories and maybe that is why we tell ‘war stories’. We tell them to help others.

My son and I talked about him getting a motorcycle. I was not opposed to him learning to ride or even getting a bike of his own. My only condition was his 1st 5000 miles had to be with me. He was going to be my wingman for those miles with the goal of teaching him how not to die. Accidents happen but on a bike you can do an enormous amount of good for yourself if you learn how to pay attention.

We can learn from asking questions. I had lunch today with one of my mentees. She wanted to know what she could have done better in a couple of rough transactions she had. We discussed the examples and talked about how to do things better but the part I loved most is she was asking.

So much of our experience happens to us and then it’s forgotten when there were really good lessons to be learned. Reflect on what went wrong, what went right and how you can do it better next time.

Get in a conversation with someone who has more experience than you. Someone who does it better. That’s key, by the way. Someone with 1 year of experience 20 times is far less helpful than someone with 20 years experience.

Be sure you can tell the difference.

One advantage of getting older is I can say I’ve seen more stuff. I’ve worked in a few industries and had a couple of great careers. As a recovering engineer, I think it helps me to understand what is happening. It might take a little time to dissect the details out but one of my early teachers said “divide and conquer”. Figure out what’s working and what’s broken and keep going toward broken. You’ll get to the real problem eventually.

Another thing that keeps us digging is a search for the truth. Don’t stop with the obvious. Don’t stop with the things that agree with your bias and assumptions.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Something can be true but it’s not necessarily the truth. Did you know Jimmy Carter was a world champion boxer? It’s true. Jimmy Carter was also 39th President of the United States. That’s true too but to say the 39th President of the United States was a world champion boxer would not be the truth. You have to dig sometimes to learn enough to know the truth.

You have to put your bias and assumptions aside to learn the truth.

You might have to talk to someone you don’t agree with to get more information so you can get to the truth.

I appreciate you sticking with me this evening. I wanted to get that out while I was thinking about it and I wasn’t sure where it was going or how it would turn out. Sometimes this blog is a way for me to process.

It’s a place of invitation too. I’d invite you to comment below some of the lessons you’ve learned.

What did you learn this week? What did you do well and can do better? What went wrong and how will you keep that from happening again? Tell us a war story if you want.

We’ll learn from you.

Thanks for listening,
Jerry Robertson
678-616-1578 Direct

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