Iron Sharpens Iron: Looking to Others when Learning

Being an obsessed analytic, I am always trying new things to help me improve at life. Don’t worry, I do take time to enjoy life, but I want to always be improving. Surprisingly to me, all the books and articles I read that were full of wonderful advice did not have the biggest impact on guiding my direction. Instead, the most impacting activity I did was sitting down with peers and mentors and discussing my life.

Many young adults aspire to learn great things and eventually build a legacy. Books, magazines, and blogs are great sources of information because you are always leveraging the knowledge and experiences that took someone years to acquire all for a few dollars or minutes of your time. While full of information, written sources are not my one stop shop for advice.

The reason is that human beings have an uncanny ability to relate and identify with others that no printed book or page can do. When we read through an experience of someone else, it’s up to us to figure out how we relate and how we can use the information for our good or towards the goals we have identified. But when we sit down and talk to another person, perhaps a friend or mentor, that is when perspectives are multiplied and it becomes much easier to get quick, relevant, and extremely applicable suggestions.

Written tips can only go so far in helping us is because they are static. It’s hard to ask questions and generate a discussion while reading. Even online blogs are limited in how quickly you can get feedback and authors rarely know you as well as a good friend or mentor. Friends and colleagues on the other hand know you. They know your strengths and weaknesses and probably have an idea of where your heading or where you want to be. They even see you in ways differently than you see yourself. When you ask those close to you a good question they respond to you differently than they would to anyone else and this is a great benefit to you.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

Some of the best tips I have received on my life and work come from those all around me. Whether it is a formal group like a church small group or accountability group or just talking with friends and family, discussing life has always been more personal and relevant than reading a book. Take some time to identify a few people you come into contact with on a regular basis and start discussing your goals in life today.

Here are some questions and pointers to get you started

  • What have you done lately to make sure you’re leveraging those around you to help point you in the right direction?
  • Do you balance reading with discussion when learning from others?
  • Who are three people that you respect who may help you with your direction in life?
  • Contact one or all three and set up a meeting (breakfast, lunch, coffee) for some time within the next month and do it now (the best way to guarantee getting something done).

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