• Abhishek Singh

7 Benefits of learning from someone else's experiences

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Humans started learning from others consciously or unconsciously, possibly from the time human civilisation was getting shaped from the beginning of the stone age. In fact, it was our very ability to learn from each other, which led us to we not just surviving the test of time, but also establish dominance over species who were often physically more powerful than us or even dangerous. We increasingly live in a world, where human capabilities & intellect are lesser dependent on what they already know, and depend a lot more on how quickly they can learn new facts. Intelligence is not just knowing a lot about our default environment to make ourselves more resourceful, but more about learning & adapting to a new environment whenever there is an opportunity for the same.

However, the ability/appetite to learn from others is rather found unequally distributed amongst us, and it is argued that those who are able to learn from other's experiences much more are at an advantage when it comes to overcoming problems in personal, social & professional lives. Here is why is the case for the same:

  • Learn much faster: If you are only dependent on your experience to learn new things, your exposure/intellect can only grow linearly with your age. However, if you are the type, who invests efforts into growing their network and learning from the same, your exposure/intellect is growing exponentially here with your age. The latter has the power of strong compounding, and mathematically is the better choice of the two for each one of us.

  • Multiple perspectives: We often underestimate how strong a position it is to know what diverse personalities or cultures or demographics or ideologies perceive things as. Interestingly, that's also how leaders win elections whether it's corporate boards or for political positions of power. Founders/inventors also dramatically benefit knowing how different age audiences will perceive their offerings as and what is that one size that least misfits all?

“We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.” ― Steve Goodier
  • You de-risk: Ask any experienced investor and they will advise you is that a winning portfolio is the one that can generate consistently impressive returns with optimal risk minimisation. By astutely learning from other's experiences, you are essentially reducing your market/situation risk while still being able to learn nearly the same amount. So potential for comparable returns for much-reduced risk, which is something you obviously want to have in your portfolio.

  • A Unique view: While it is possible to have the same expertise someone else has, with a lot of effort, it is not possible to have their entire set of experiences that helped shape that expertise. The reason is obvious, that each of us has a unique life and while it is logical to make inferences based on background, certain nuances continue to be unique with every life. By learning from this person's experience, you surely have a chance to get a unique perspective, which is something you may not be able to experience first hand.

  • Growing your network: Again very intuitive, but when we establish meaningful symbiotic conversations/partnerships with people, they likely get to know us back. This is a good way to expand your network, which can help you back in the future when the opportunity seems right. So we are essentially bracing ourselves for future wins, by unlocking potential through relevant conversations with the right people.

  • Validating perceptions: Actively listening to other's experiences gives us the chance to escape and validate our own biases sometimes. It's human to have own set of assumptions/perceptions/prejudices and its improvisation when we are able to validate or invalidate the same to better structure our thought process.

  • Contributing to someone's growth: They say that teaching is the best way to learn, and similar could be inferred about sharing experiences with others to help them learn something new. But while we are actively listening and asking great questions to the other party, we are unconsciously helping them get a better grasp of the situation they experienced in retrospect. They benefit from our reactions and opportunities we present for clarification or adding depth. Just think about ways in which an interviewer is also improving their skills by interviewing multiple interviewees. While this could mean development for the person sharing their experience, it means more fulfilment for us, by being helpful in return.

If the above points resonate with your thoughts then please do check out Headstrt. For all those who view things differently, we would love to get your thoughts to on the comments below.

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