Learning is one of the pillars of life that dramatically impacts where your path leads. It’s a lifelong skill that needs to always be cultivated. Learning never ends.
The thing is, we often only hear about the good parts of learning. The brilliant mentor, the book that spoke to our soul, the amazing class, or the subject area that just clicked.
While seeking out great learning opportunities is important, its not always so perfect. Things aren’t always so simple.
It’s not easy to find good mentors. The class you were excited about may be terrible. The ideas others are pushing on you may be ridiculous. The book you’re reading may contradict everything you believe. This of course happens more often than not. There are certainly more bad opportunities for learning than good ones.
What should we do in such situations? It’s quite simple. Keep learning, but instead of learning what to do or how to think, learn what NOT to do and how NOT to think.
There’s just as much to learn from the bad and the ugly, as there is to learn from the good. In fact, there may be more.
When you get exposed to poor or terrible experiences that you completely disagree with, you learn what matters to you. You discover yourself and what you stand for. You start to think how you would do things, rather than blindly following what others tell you to do.
There are invaluable lessons in such experiences. Seeing what doesn’t work, what you wouldn’t do in your business, or what you would do differently in your life, are all useful ways of learning.
We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.Lloyd Alexander
Moreover, I think poor learning experiences may be even more valuable than good ones. Bad learning forces you to think more deeply about the issue at hand. Instead of accepting the brilliant mentors wisdom, you question everything.
You seek out the right answers, rather than accepting the wrong ones. You start to ask why, and on some level, you gain a better understanding of what you’re facing.
The point is, learning from the good is great, but learning from the bad and the ugly can help you gain even better understanding and prevent you from blindly following the knowledge of others.
No matter the quality, there is something to learn. Don’t discount the bad and the ugly.
Image via flickr