Like Jon Snow, I Know Nothing: Why Learning is a Lifelong Journey
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?"
This past week I went to Washington D.C. to attend a real estate software conference. This was my 3rd time going and every time I leave I think my head is going to explode with all the knowledge I’ve just added. This smack in the head is my annual reminder that like Jon Snow, I know nothing. Well, not completely nothing, but probably 1% of what this software is capable of. It’s eye-opening and very humbling.
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Learning is a Lifelong Journey
This conference is a metaphor for life. On the surface, I’ve worked with this software for a couple of years now so I think I have a decent idea of how to navigate things and how it works. But it turns out it’s just a superficial knowledge of the software as it exists today. What I’ve failed to recognize is that there are thousands of employees from this software company that are improving and enhancing their products day in and day out behind the scenes. Likewise in life, we go about our daily routines unaware of the progress that’s being made outside of our periphery. This awareness in and of itself is key to understanding why self-development and growth are of such importance. There is a wide world of things to learn out there and that knowledge base is growing and expanding by the minute. Do yourself a favor, take stock and acknowledge that no matter how old you are, there will always be something new to learn. As the saying goes "You don't know what you don't know".
You don’t always have to learn something that’s related to your day job. Find a hobby or something that interests you and see how it works. Maybe you want to learn to invest in stocks or see what options are available for college students that don’t want large student loans. Or perhaps you want to learn how to garden or how to shoot a gun safely and accurately. As long as you’re challenging yourself and extending your knowledge base, it will be beneficial to your future self.
Here are a few basic principles to keep in mind as you learn new things.
1. Stay Focused
We are living in the Internet of Things. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. Learning new things has never been so accessible. There are TONS of resources available at your fingertips! But, the barrier to entry is getting past the countless number of distractions that will eat up your time (i.e. social media, 24/7 news, etc.) All sites will have some form of marketing and entertainment value but don't get so caught up and miss the fact this person is completely off topic and ranting about the topic rather than being factual and informative. And remember that people are still our greatest resource. Not everyone has a blog out there so it's still worthwhile to ask a person directly about a topic if they're an expert on the subject.
2. Take Action
If you’re yearning to do something, whether it’s gardening or building a fence, research it out sufficiently but know there comes a point when you need to use the information you’ve learned and apply it. Don’t become so overwhelmed with information that you get in the way of starting a project. Sometimes it's best to just do something and refine your steps along the way.
Here are some online learning platforms that we love. Poke around and see what topics peak your interest. Some costs a few dollars, some are free. Remember to consider these costs an investment in your current and future self.
Creative Live - For all creators out there, which is ALL of us, find your next creative or business breakthrough with one of Creative Live's classes. We especially recommend two classes related to personal finance: David Bach's "Start Late, Finish Rich" and Ramit Sethi's "How to Make Money."
Skillshare - For those looking for an online community, find thousands of classes over at Skillshare.
Podcasts - So many to name so little time, but check out Tim Ferriss, ChooseFI, Tony Robbins, Ben Greenfield. (Just typing this up, I realize no women on this list, so stay tuned for a list of podcasts from amazing women.)
3. Failure & Frustration Are Part of the Process
When trying anything new, there is a chance you won’t succeed the first time around or it won’t be what you expected it to be. Don’t let perfectionism and fear of failure be the reason why you don’t do something. Change your mental thinking from “What if it doesn’t work out?” to “What if it does”? Be persistent and see what you can improve on the next time around. If you're feeling frustrated, take a break, maybe get feedback from someone else on your ideas and questions that you have. Don't perfect be the enemy of progress.
4. People Love to Criticize, So Let Them
People generally mean well and they will try to give you advice on things that you should avoid. I say listen and learn from their mistakes. If they’re at a place in life where you eventually want to be, then yes maybe take their advice more to heart but for the naysayers who want to chime in and tell you to hire someone because something is too difficult for you to attempt, be a bit more cautious about the advice they're giving you. I always prefer people who are willing to help you figure things out compared to the ones who say something's just too hard.
5. Learning is a Choice
For those of you who are past high school, knowledge is no longer something your teachers will spoon feed to you. You have a choice of learning something new or accepting the minimum amount of information that you have. It is counter to our human nature to move outside of our comfort zone, the easier route is to stick with the status quo. The thing with learning after say age 25, is that it takes effort. I will admit there have been days where I just put something off because I don't have the mental energy to process it. The dangerous part is when this becomes the norm. You settle into a routine and start thinking only within your realm of expertise and experience and start limiting the capabilities of your brain. Be wary of this. Make a conscious effort to learn something new, to make an intentional choice of doing something different.
Choose to Learn
Choose to learn, choose to grow, choose to develop. As well-intentioned as some people are, including your parents, significant others and bosses, you are ultimately responsible for how you turn out in the long term.
None of us are born experts so we have to start somewhere when it comes to learning. Today, any topic of interest is literally at your fingertips. Build up your personal knowledge base and continuing adding on to it.