Recently, I sat for an hour with a sales representative from Oracle. (One of those chance, accidental encounters). He knows his stuff! He knew things, many things — things that I did not know. We talked about the Cloud, and “adding value,” and the challenges brought by new, unexpected competitors… We talked about a lot. I think he appreciated insights I shared from recent books I’ve read, especially Team of Teams. But, I know I appreciated his tutorial. I learned things — things I did not know. Words and concepts that I’ve read about became understandable. He “explained” things in the course of our conversation, and I was grateful.
Which got me to thinking…
Who do you learn from?
This is not an unimportant question.
Narrow expertise is indeed valuable. But, ever-increasing broader knowledge is also valuable; maybe even more valuable.
Assuming we have acquired some level of basic knowledge, what happens next is that we tend to learn from people:
- in our field
- who think like we think
In other words, what we learn may provide a slight, continual, ongoing expansion of our capabilities and knowledge (this is good), but a failure to expand our horizons; a failure to learn from some one or some ones “outside” our normal viewpoints.
And, to fail to take advantage of that wider world of knowledge is not only a mistake, it could be increasingly a threat to your own future and that of your company.
The library (i.e., your personal library) should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real- estate market allow you to put there.
It reminds me that our knowledge is narrow, and the available information out there is so very vast.
And, the more we learn — the more we read and learn from “outside” our normal interests — the better equipped we will be to make sense of this diverse, collaborating, so.many.things.meshing.together world.
So… a simple suggestion. Read something, pretty regularly, from an author you normally would not read, in a field you know little about. And find more “accidental, chance encounters” with people who could teach you about something you know little about. It might be a surprisingly valuable way to spend some of your time.