Intelligence = the ability to learn from your mistakes.
Wisdom = the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes.
The fastest way to rise in your career is to be wise, not just intelligent.
I’ve learned from hundreds of mistakes — only some of which were mistakes of my own.
The key to wisdom is to put yourself in a position to learn from other people’s mistakes.
Social media is not one of those places.
Social media is where people brag about their successes… rarely discussing their struggles.
Most in-person social events are the same. Rarely do people share their failures (though they are more than happy to talk about their successes).
The three best sources to wisely learn from other people’s mistakes are by:
- Reading books (a great way to learn the author’s lifetime of knowledge for only $15… an incredible deal);
- Listening to close friends and those in your network who’ve already accomplished what you want to achieve;
- Learning from mentors who are willing to be honest about their mistakes.
I have 500 books on my Kindle, of which I’ve read about 450 of them. I have 2,000+ lbs (1,000+ kg) of books in my garage, packed in around 50 – 60 boxes. I spend 2 hours a day reading one thing or another.
I’ve written extensively about the importance of building a network of relationships (both personal and professional). You help others. They help you. If you can, it helps to develop at least some of your relationships with people further ahead of you in their careers.
Finally, it’s incredibly useful to find mentors.
Mentors can be current or former bosses. They can be colleagues that are more senior to you in your company. They can be people in other organizations with whom you’ve built a mentorship relationship.
Good mentors are hard to find, but immensely valuable to building your career.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, had an early mentor… a former professor named Larry Summers.
Summers later became the President of Harvard University and the Secretary of the Treasury for President Bill Clinton. Summers was also the person that encouraged Sandberg to go work for a friend of his at a tiny startup called Google.
As you can imagine, such relationships are incredibly valuable — but also hard to find.
If you have the chance to develop a 1:1 mentorship relationship with someone you admire and respect, it’s an invaluable opportunity. They can introduce you to people in their network, teach you new ideas, and give you invaluable feedback on your career.
I’m often asked to be a 1:1 mentor for others, but unfortunately don’t have the time to individually mentor so many people simultaneously.
A few years ago, I decided to form a group mentorship program where I would mentor others in a group setting. This program is now named my Inner Circle program.
I host regular video conference office hours for my Inner Circle members. I answer questions from individual members, while allowing others in the group to listen in.
(You’d be surprised how often one person’s question is applicable to others.)
I also write up my latest thinking on a monthly basis and send a private newsletter to each of my members via the postal mail each month.
Finally, I’m trying something new this summer by hosting small group dinners just for my Inner Circle members. In August, I’ll be hosting in-person meetings in Madrid, Dubai, Taipei, and Beijing.
If you have an opportunity to develop a 1:1 in-person mentorship relationship with someone you admire, it’s worth pursuing. If such an opportunity isn’t available and you’ve benefited from my work in the past, you might consider joining my Inner Circle program.
Membership is currently closed, but I do anticipate opening up the program to new members for a few days in early July.
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