An Unexpected Trait of The Truly Successful

I was talking to a young entrepreneur earlier today. We were talking about the progress she was making in her business. She’s killing it. Her most recent “big” win was a deal with the Red Sox.  This girl is smart, driven and a hustler, and she’s done amazing things in a tough retail business.

As we were talking, I couldn’t help but notice a very common theme in her dialog. She kept saying, “I learned.”

As she was describing what she was doing each sentence was predicated with, “I learned that . . . ” It was then followed by, “So I . . .”  She was very specific in describing what she learned and how it affected what she did. It was impressive.

Almost everything in her plan and approach was driven from an earlier learning. She was very deliberate in her strategy, based on things she had learned from past failures, customer engagement, successes, research, and more. She was in constant execution pivot mode.  She was in full trial and error mode, and she didn’t let learning go uncapitalized.

I was extremely impressed with her humility and commitment to learning from every interaction and apply those learnings moving forward. It’s her humility and commitment to learning as she goes and ultimately applying the learnings that will make her successful.

There is lots of talk about what it takes to be successful, but learning as a tool isn’t one of the things we talk about. Learning and being responsive to the learning is so critical to success. No matter how smart, well organized or prepared we are, nothing goes as planned.  Learning is what allows us to pivot. Learning on the fly is where success truly comes from.

In spite of the importance of learning for success, too few people are true learners. It’s rare to hear people talk like this young entrepreneur. Too often we’re conditioned to tell, to prove we know it all, to push through, to muscle things to completion. We’re ignorant of the changes, the miscalculations, the shift in the market, the poor assumptions, to our original plans. We’re so busy trying to do that we aren’t paying attention to what’s our world is telling us.

When we look for the learnings, we avoid those traps.

Don’t overlook learning. Don’t fight it. Embrace the changes, embrace the learnings, seek out the unknown, the unexpected and the confusing.  It’s in these learnings that success lies.

How often do you say, “I learned . . . So I . . . ”