Gain Knowledge Through Experience
It’s rare in life that a person can learn without actual experience. Until we get our hands dirty, until we begin experimenting by trial and error, there is really no way to learn in concretely meaningful ways. Now, it’s true that some people are abstract thinkers and don’t have to “experience” in order to learn. Think of college professors as an example. Ever hear the adage “those who can’t do, teach”?
Well, it is true that people who cannot succeed in practice often do succeed in academia. Here’s the missing piece, however. Those who can do, often make even better teachers than those who can’t do. Take a few moments to think about that.
Two very recent experiences opened my eyes to this reality. The first experience was with a friend who sells web design packages. I had read a number of books on CSS and HTML but just couldn’t get the concepts down. After all, I’m one who learns by doing, but I wrongly assumed that I’d need to understand abstract concepts in order to design a website. I came to realize that my friend doesn’t really understand those abstract concepts himself and has, in fact, invented his own way of doing things that he was able to teach me. Life is good.
The second example involves a friend who is a very successful entrepreneur. He has destroyed me in quite a few business games over the years. You know, games like Monopoly. Like my friend who designs websites, my entrepreneur friend has developed unique modes of operating in the business world. While the rules he’s written for himself do not necessarily fit an abstract ideal, my friend is very good at teaching others how to replicate his success. Perhaps even better than those who dedicate their lives to teaching but have only limited practical experience.
Don’t limit yourself to learning only in school. Rather, try to learn how to reinvent yourself every day. Learn from those who have succeeded, because often they have a better grasp of reality than people who focus on only abstract theories.