I spent 21 years as a student and 14 years as a teacher. And now I’m back to being a student again. This time around, my classroom is in the real world.
I read the current issue of Inc. with great interest. It highlights the Inc. 500: the 500 fastest growing private companies in the United States. One trend that I saw again and again among these insanely successful entrepreneurs is that they have a drive to learn. Every day they learn something new — not only because they have to — but also because they want to.
And when you learn something new, you have to fail to get better.
I officially decided to start my own company about a year ago. Aside from grad school, I have learned more in this past year than I have in the rest of my adult life.
Because my company is a solo venture, I am simultaneously the principal consultant, head coach, and training manager as well as the office manager, CEO, and marketing director. Over the course of a day, I face disparate questions like:
- How is it that I need new printer ink already?
- What’s my estimated bottom line for this quarter?
- What software (if any) should I use to manage my contacts?
- What should I post to Twitter today?
- What should I wear to the networking event next week?
- How should I respond to this request for a list of my areas of expertise?
- Do I email this person with one more reminder or is he ignoring me?
- What’s my vision for my company? Where do I see it in 6 months? In one year?
- How is it that the day is over already?
How do I tackle these issues? Trial and error without fear of failure. That’s how you become a rock star student in the real world.
I’ve recently taken up rock climbing and the aha moment happened for me when I fell for the first time. It wasn’t so bad. It was kind of fun actually. I was just dangling there laughing. I enjoyed the fact that I finally failed and now I can move on to getting better.
Rock star students don’t fear failure. They manufacture failure and embrace it.
I’m embracing the fact that as a student again, I have the chance to fail and learn every day. I’m also embracing the fact that as I become a better student, I can also become a better teacher.
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