Monday, August 22, 2011

Who Do I Learn From?

I was thinking some more about the previous post.  In particular, the paragraph about failure.  I mentioned that many people like to learn from those who are successful.  Because they'll learn how things are done properly.  There's truth in that, but there's also fallacy.  There are several ways you can get to a successful outcome:

  1. You intentionally think and do the things that lead to a given outcome,
  2. You're a "natural" and just do things right without having to think about it,
  3. You just happen to have things come out right, without you having anything to do with the outcome.

Not all are in the first category.  A small percentage are successful by sheer luck or because they know someone involved in making the outcome happen.  They're in the right place at the right time. But they have no direct influence on events.  They have nothing to teach us about how they got where they are.

Ted Williams, the great home run hitter for the Boston Red Sox, is an example of the second category.  He had no idea how he consistently hit home runs, he just did it.  You might learn some things from watching him do his job.  But he could never coach or teach you how to do what he did.

Yes, the first category consciously did things to get to a successful outcome.  Many can describe the process so that others can learn how to repeat the success.  But is that the best way to learn?

Bill Gates says, "Success is a lousy teacher.  It makes smart people think they can't lose."  I suspect that problem isn't so much with those who are successful as with those trying to learn from them how to be successful.  There's the possibility of taking the original successful steps and making them into a formula.  No matter whether circumstances differ or not.  And that's part of the problem.

In his book "The Winners' Manual", Jim Tressel talks about the process of learning from our mistakes. "If you're aware of the pressures, if you're present and are able to think through what you did wrong (identify), you can also figure out how to do it right (improve), and then practice the right steps to improve (implement)).  If you follow this three-step process -- identify, improve, and implement -- you'll not only 'cope' with adversity, but you'll also move forward stronger and with more passion toward your goals."

Truly successful people adjust to changing situations, take chances that may or may not work, but after weighing the possible benefits against the possible failures.  And then, whether the result is success or failure, they analyze what happened, what made it happen or fail.  True success is a learning process, tweaking to improve or adjust for changing situations, getting rid of what didn't work.  We eliminate the possibility of success the moment we stop learning, the moment we become certain we're doomed to unwavering success or failure.

What things and people teach you how to be the best, the true success?

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