I learn something new all the time. This idea – never stop listening and learning — isn’t novel. In fact, I came across a quote that sums it up perfectly from Bill Nye the Science Guy:
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
In the spirit, I’ve made it a practice to try and learn something from everyone I meet, and to seek advice whenever I can. I’ve found people are generally pleased to have been asked, and quite willing to provide guidance. Here are some ways to make all this happen:
Listen much more than you talk.
This may seem counter-intuitive (how can you ask questions and seek out new answers if you don’t keep asking questions?), but it’s not. Ask what you’d like to know, and then be quiet. It’s easy to have a rapid-fire list of questions, but people tend to talk less when they know you aren’t really listening, but instead are lining up the next question.
I love the quote, “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply.”
Don’t be too selective.
Don’t seek out people who are just like you, even though that’s your natural inclination. The wider the range of people you engage, the more you’ll learn and grow.
If you want the real story, ask the people who actually do the work.
I realize I’m characterized by most employees as a “corporate suit,” so I’m certainly not looking in any way to denigrate our leadership teams. That said, one of the best ways to learn a company’s challenges and get a feel for the culture is to talk with the employees who deal with customers every day.
Remember what you learned.
Seeking advice is of little value if you don’t make use of it – and you can’t do that unless you remember it. If you’re one of those people who is not gifted with a “steel trap” type of memory, find a way to quickly and easily create some record of the ideas and advice you garner. Thankfully, smart phones are great for this. Whether you record a message to yourself, write yourself a note or send yourself an e-mail, capture what you’ve learned.
What were the words of wisdom that made all the difference in our life and career?
That Just Simple To Do: Keep listening. Keep learning. And Remember.
While this is good advice for any aspects of life!! You will be thank you for it always.