“Don’t touch that hot stove – you’ll burn yourself.” We’ve all heard that advice before. Some of us headed the advice and some of us didn’t. Those who did were able to avoid a painful burn and its subsequent scarring, and those who didn’t…well, we all know what happened to them. They learned the hard way.
I spend a lot of time relaying life lessons I learned, both through the writing of my blogs and through giving speeches at business conferences and Universities. I do that because I learned so many valuable lessons over the years that I want to help others learn those same principles without them having to go through making the mistakes I made in order to learn them.
It’s true that the most memorable teacher is making a mistake yourself and learning from the pain that resulted from it….ie. touching the hot stove and getting badly burned and left with a permanent scar from it…but seriously, do we really want to put ourselves through that kind of pain and permanent scarring in order to be taught?! Because there is a MUCH easier and FAR less painful teacher in life we can choose to learn from, and that is the mistakes of others.
When we are in our teenage and young adult years we often discount the advice given to us by those who are older, telling ourselves those things don’t or won’t apply to our lives because we are different…. And while it’s true that each of us are individual and unique, the outcome of touching a hot stove will be the same for all of us – touching a hot stove = getting burned. It’s just a fact. And its up to us to decide if we want to learn that the hard way or the easy way in life. I much prefer the easy way.
After making a few painful mistakes as an entrepreneur I learned that I could save myself all kinds of time, money, and pain if I would be willing to seek out advice from those who’d had experience, listen to those lessons they had learned from making those mistakes, and then heed their advice. Doing that allowed me to jump way ahead of those who were determined to learn only from their own mistakes. And even better, it allowed me to bypass a whole lot of pain I would have otherwise experienced by not having to go through those mistakes myself. To this day I still continue to constantly seek out advice from those who have been there and done that before I try to tackle any hard problems or issues on my own. Whether its talking with my parents, reaching out to business associates, or turning to the words of someone I’ve never met but who has written books and articles or given speeches, I never hesitate to seek out wisdom from those who have had firsthand experience or those who’ve been wise enough to learn from the wisdom of others.
At the end of the day we can learn things the hard way or we can learn them the easy way – the choice is up to us. I suggest the easy way because it’s so much happier!
~Amy Rees Anderson