Forget Your Mistakes, Learn from the People Around You

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Guest Post by Brenda Harris

Guest Blogger, Brenda Harris

They say experience is a good teacher, but the best student is someone who learns not just from their own experiences, but also from those of others around him

It was a genius who said that we don’t live long enough to learn everything we ought to from our mistakes, so unless we know how to learn from the ones that others make, we are bound to go through life less savvy than we could be. When it comes to business, most people value experience over education while some feel that education is the foundation on which experience builds success. Either way, experience is a key variable when you want to achieve professional success, so the wider and more varied your experiences, the better you’re able to steer your business in the right direction. So what are the right lessons you must learn through experience?

1. One man’s meat may or may not be another’s poison: The experience you go through may be the same, but how you use the lessons learned from the experience depends on you and you alone. For example, if you are in charge of a logistics operation and a key supplier failing you at a crucial stage makes things go wrong. A competitor in the same position may terminate their relationship with the supplier, but you cannot follow their lead blindly without considering its relevance in your situation. For one, if you are going to use their bad experience to learn a valuable lesson, you should have used the opportunity to strengthen the weakest and most crucial parts of your supply chain; and for another, terminating the relationship may be more detrimental to your company in the long run. So analyze your situation and do what needs to be done accordingly instead of doing exactly what others do.

2. You may scratch my back, but that does not mean I have to scratch yours: If you’ve done a good turn for someone, don’t be too sure that you can call in the favour when you need it. In the fiercely competitive business world, people look out for their own interests first. So even though you think you have earned sufficient goodwill, you must be prepared for the worst and not get complacent or expect that your good deed makes people obliged to you.

3. Things are not really what they seem to be: Don’t ever believe that everything is as it seems – there are layers beneath every surface, each of which you must be able to see through as you gain more experience. For example, the people you perceive as competition may not actually be a threat to your business. Rather, your competition could come from sources you consider highly unlikely to drive you out of business. You only have to look at Google as an example – it started out as a search engine a few years ago, but today, it is in direct competition with the cell phone industry and those who write operating systems for mobile phones. Its Android OS has the potential to eat into the market share that Windows and Symbian currently enjoy.

This guest post is contributed by Brenda Harris, who writes on the topic of executive mba programs . She can be reached at brenda.harris at gmail dot com.

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