Learn from experience… of others

There’s an old saying that you’ve probably heard.

It’s, “Pride comes before the fall,” and it’s one that I think of often. 

The saying originates with the Bible. Proverbs 16:18 states: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” 

It’s a reminder that wisdom is eternal – and universal. 

I see that lesson played out in many aspects of life, but I was thinking about it in context to business and how sometimes our pride gets in the way of seeking and receiving good advice. 

It’s so important to learn from those who went before you. 

Contrary to what you may have heard, experience is not the best teacher. Those lessons can be painful.

OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCE is the best teacher. Learning from the mistakes of those who went before you is much less painful than making those mistakes on your own.

Often when we get into business leadership we start to think we need to have all the answers. Successful people figure out that’s not true. Nobody has all the answers. We can learn them from each other. That requires humility, and an openness to listen and learn. 

That’s why I have hired business coaches. So I can learn from their experience.

A few verses later in that same chapter of Proverbs is a related piece of advice applicable to our business life and leadership” “Wisdom is a fountain of life to one who has it, but folly is the punishment of fools.”

If you’re trying to grow your service business, reach out to see if I can help you learn from the experience of all the other companies I have worked with.

“Intensity is the price of excellence”

– Warren Buffett

I’m about a quarter of the way through Alice Schroeder’s excellent 1,000 page biography of Warren Buffett and I’m struck by two things, both of which are summarized by this quote that she attributes to him.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

First, was his voracious appetite for learning. He devoured everything he could get his hands on: newspapers, magazines, industry publications, books, and much more. He streamlined his life to devote as much of his time as possible to learning. He eschewed possessions, depended almost completely on his wife to run the household, set up his business so that he could devote time to this.

Early in his career, he took jobs based on what they could teach him, he applied for schools based on the professors he wanted to learn from, he took classes from Dale Carnegie. He ran his life in such a way as to find the information he needed to succeed.

The second was how focused his learning was. He wasn’t learning for the sake of learning. He had an almost single-minded pursuit of capital management. He read stock tip sheets, company reports, and whatever else he could get his hands on in order to learn.

I am already learning from Buffett. I’m already a dedicated learner, reading more than 100 books a year. But I love to learn about a wide variety of topics and could be more focused on the things that really move the needle for me.

What have you learned from the Oracle of Omaha? How intense is your learning?

Only Coach the Coachable

I’m a third of the way through reading the Trillion Dollar Coach. At the end of chapter three, the authors summarize Bill Campbell’s coaching style:

He started by building trust, which only deepened over time. He was highly selective in choosing his coachees; he would only coach the coachable, the humble, hungry lifelong learners. He listened intently, without distraction. He usually didn’t tell you what to do; rather, he shared stories and let you draw conclusions. He gave, and demanded, complete candor. And he was an evangelist for courage, by showing inordinate confidence and setting aspirations high.

This is a great summary of the book so far and the recipe for being a great coach. But the one line that stood out the most to me was: “he would only coach the coachable, the humble, hungry lifelong learners.” It’s really tough to coach someone who doesn’t want to be coached, even (especially) if they need it.

In order for coaching to succeed, the “want to” of the coachee is more important than the “have to.”

You are the creative

I just finished reading Crushing It! by Gary V. I have pages of notes from reading it, but one that stood out to me was this big change in the 11 years since he published Crush It!:

In 2009, I devoted only three lines to the idea that “you can even make the learning process part of your content.” It was an aside, a possible solution if you were young or still building cred. Since then I’ve come to realize that, actually, the learning process should be your content.

He goes on to write that, as you are building your personal brand:

you don’t just have the ability to generate unique pieces of creative—you are the unique piece of creative. Don’t worry about getting people’s attention by plotting a poetic YouTube video or writing four drafts of a snappy Facebook status post. Instead, use every platform available to document your actual life and speak your truth. Let people learn who you are, then let them watch you develop into who you want to become.

In order to be interesting, you don’t need to be wildly creative, because you are the creative. This definitely rings true in my life. My content is the best when I’m learning something for the first time. When I’m bringing others along on my learning process.

Follow the advice of Gary V. Don’t just be creative. Be the creative.