In every chapter of our lives, we encounter individuals who seem to effortlessly excel – those who, in our eyes, are in a league of their own. Their achievements, character, or talents place them a notch above the rest, making us pause and ponder, “What sets them apart?” As a lifelong learner and an ardent observer of success, I’ve come to realize that the wisdom these extraordinary people offer is not just in what they’ve achieved, but in how they’ve achieved it. In this blog, I share with you the profound life lessons I’ve learned from ‘people better than me’, those who have unknowingly been my mentors on this journey of growth and discovery.
#1: Embracing Humility in the Face of Excellence
The first and perhaps the most pivotal lesson I learned was the value of humility. In a world that often equates confidence with loudness and self-promotion, humility is a quiet strength that can be easily overlooked. Yet, it is in humility that we find the space to grow. I remember attending a lecture by a renowned scientist, whose groundbreaking research had changed the face of modern medicine. Amidst his awe-inspiring achievements, what struck me most was his simplicity and eagerness to acknowledge the contributions of his team and predecessors. He said, “I stand on the shoulders of giants.” This perspective shifted my own. I began to see every interaction as a learning opportunity, and every person I met, regardless of their status or expertise, as a teacher in some way. This shift in mindset opened doors to a world of knowledge and experiences I would have otherwise missed.
#2: The Power of Persistent Effort
Another invaluable lesson came from understanding the power of persistent effort. We live in an age where the stories of ‘overnight successes’ inundate our social feeds, creating a distorted perception of achievement. However, in conversing with those I admired, a different narrative emerged – one of relentless perseverance, often in the face of daunting obstacles. A conversation with a successful entrepreneur revealed the years of tireless work, failed ventures, and relentless pursuit of vision that preceded his current success. This resonated deeply with my own experiences. In my early writing career, there were countless rejections and moments of doubt. But it was the persistent effort – the late nights, the continuous learning, and the unwavering commitment to my craft – that eventually led to small yet significant breakthroughs. This journey underscored a truth often masked by the glamour of success: real achievement is a product of persistent, often unglamorous work.
#3: Learning from Failure
One of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned from people I admire is how to approach and learn from failure. It’s a lesson that’s often overlooked, as success stories typically dominate the spotlight. Yet, the journey to success is frequently paved with setbacks and failures. I recall a conversation with a celebrated author who shared her early rejections. She told me, “Each rejection was a lesson in disguise, teaching me to refine my craft.” This resonated with me, as I reflected on my own journey, where each failure served as a stepping stone, providing invaluable lessons and insights.
The story of Thomas Edison’s tenacity in the face of failure while inventing the light bulb is well-known. His perspective on failure – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – is a powerful reminder of the resilience required to innovate and succeed. In my own life, a failed business venture, though initially devastating, taught me more about risk assessment, innovation, and the importance of adaptability than any success had. It was a tough lesson, but it reshaped my approach to business and personal challenges, making me more resilient and resourceful.
#4: The Importance of Continuous Learning
The most striking trait I’ve observed in ‘people better than me’ is their commitment to continuous learning. They view life as an endless classroom, with lessons awaiting in every experience and interaction. This approach to lifelong learning was exemplified in a conversation with a renowned artist. Despite her decades of success, she was taking a course in a new art form, explaining, “There’s always something new to learn, and each learning enriches us in ways we can’t imagine.”
Elon Musk, a figure known for his groundbreaking work in multiple industries, embodies this ethos of continuous learning. His ability to dive into complex subjects and emerge with innovative solutions is a testament to his lifelong commitment to learning. This inspired me to broaden my own horizons. Whether it’s learning a new language, exploring a subject outside my field, or simply engaging with diverse viewpoints, I’ve found that continuous learning has not only expanded my knowledge but also deepened my empathy and understanding of the world.
#5: Building Meaningful Relationships
Perhaps one of the most underappreciated aspects of learning from ‘people better than me’ is the importance of building and nurturing meaningful relationships. Success, I’ve learned, is seldom a solitary journey. It’s often the result of collaboration, mentorship, and a network of supportive relationships. This lesson became evident to me during a conversation with a respected CEO, who attributed much of his success to the mentors and colleagues who guided and challenged him along the way.
Building these relationships has been transformative in my own life as well. Whether it was a mentor who offered timely advice, a colleague who shared a different perspective, or even a competitor who pushed me to raise my standards, each relationship contributed to my growth. I’ve learned that fostering genuine connections, actively seeking mentorship, and being open to collaboration are not just strategies for professional advancement but are also avenues for personal enrichment.
The power of these connections was particularly evident during challenging times. When I faced obstacles, it was often the encouragement and wisdom of my network that helped me navigate through. These relationships have taught me about empathy, teamwork, and the value of diverse perspectives, shaping me into a more well-rounded individual and professional.
Reflecting on these lessons from ‘people better than me’ has been a humbling and enriching experience. Embracing humility opened my eyes to the vast knowledge around me. The power of persistent effort instilled in me the resilience to pursue my goals despite obstacles. Learning from failure taught me to view setbacks as opportunities for growth. A commitment to continuous learning expanded my horizons and deepened my understanding of the world. And building meaningful relationships enriched my journey, providing support, insight, and inspiration.
These lessons have not just been about professional success; they’ve been guideposts for living a fulfilled life. They remind me that everyone we meet has something to teach us if we’re willing to listen and learn. As you embark on your own journey, I encourage you to seek out and learn from the ‘people better than you.’ You’ll be surprised at how much your life can change when you open yourself up to the wisdom of others.