I was listening to someone explain how Google hires the other day and it made me smile. They don’t really seem to care about a person’s college education. What they do care about is this: can s/he learn from his mistakes? The person explaining the philosophy called it intellectual humility. I call it loving to learn.
Here’s an article about Google’s hiring, if you’re interested:
I’ve loved learning all my life but I hated school
I love trying to figure things out.
I hate being “taught”, only because the person teaching me has so many built-in regulations and restrictions:
- don’t skip ahead
- don’t try it on your own
- wait to ask questions
I’ve found that I learn best the more mistakes I make. That means I’m pushing the envelope of my own ignorance. I’m challenging myself. I have become phenomenally good at correcting my own mistakes because I go into something new with a pair of mental binoculars. My self-talk goes something like this: “Look what you’re doing so you can back out of this. Make sure you know how to undo this.”
I’ve learned things I never thought I would know or needed to know because I’m willing to screw up royally. Hey, what’s going to happen if I fail? I’m going to have to pay someone to bail me out, fix it, and go behind me and teach me how to do it better. Making mistakes frees me to be more creative. Think of life as a yellow brick road. Once we cross one brick, we’re free to cross another. The more distance we travel, the more we learn.
Don’t Refuse to Teach Me
In the corporate world, I used to roll my eyes at the saying “Information is power”. Yes, it is, and it’s wielded by people who want to keep their fiefdoms to themselves. You want my undying admiration? Teach me how to do something. Ask me how I did something. I’ll share that knowledge because sharing knowledge is a great and fast trick to learning.
If I ask someone to show me how they did something and they ignore me, it’s a sign. I know they’re one of those “information is power” people and I’ll avoid them in the future.
What I’ve Learned as a Writer
Here’s what I’ve learned in my almost twenty years as a published author – and all of these lessons came about because I’ve either failed or stretched in some new and different way:
1. I will never write a book that every single person in the world loves.
2. I will write some brilliant books. I will also write some books that make me try harder.
3. Reader’s tastes changes, just like mine. The book I loved today I might hate tomorrow and vice versa.
4. If readers love my writing voice they’ll pick up all the genres I write.
5. I’ve never written my perfect book – yet.
Now, how about you?
Did you like school? Do you like making mistakes because it frees you to experiment?