No one knows everything, says John O’Brien, and it’s not a weakness to admit it. He explains the business importance of continually learning.
“One thing that I was advised very early on and has served me very, very well, is always to maintain a desire to learn, have that inquiring mind.
I think when you’re younger, that’s a natural instinct with most people. You want to explore what’s over the hill, you want to go that little bit further, you want to understand what life’s got ahead of you.
But I think the critical thing – which I’m sad to say I see in many people of my generation – is they get to a point where they think they know it all.
Or, if they think they don’t know it all, their ego gets in the way of them actually accepting that they can go out and learn.
There are people that I know – and they’re good friends of mine – that will not accept the fact that they perhaps need to go on a training course. They won’t accept the fact they’ll learn something from the juniors in the office. They won’t accept the fact that it would be great to do a correspondence course or, go to do something else as a learning experience. Because they don’t want to show to third parties that there’s some weakness in their make-up.
I’m completely the opposite. Every day, I go and learn something. I learn something from the young people in my team who will teach me something else, like social media. I learn things from my daughter, who’ll introduce me to different types of music.
All of this is about life, it’s about understanding that life continues, and your ability to learn should continue. But in a business context, it becomes critically important.
If you’re in middle age and you’re heading up a company, but your client base is in its 20s, you have to understand what triggers them. And to understand that isn’t just about getting reports from your directors about what they’re buying, it’s about going and talking to them, it’s learning what motivates them in life. It’s that continual exploration, that ability and willingness to go and learn, and do so without feeling that it’s diminishing your own position, in any way.”
This is an abridged transcript of the video lesson – watch the video for the full story!