Ask for it.
We know that to drive development there are really just two keys to learning –
- Seminal experiences
- Key people
In other blogs we've talked about learning through experience: taking the tough job, getting onto a project team, or my personal favorite (and frequent practice) saying “yes” first, and figuring out “how” later. You learn by doing.
Let's examine number two a little more closely however.
Turns out the other key way we learn things is by exposure to – that means interaction with – key people. People that have been there before, tried different things, maybe eve failed a little. Experience both good and bad.
We call that learning.
Yet many of us make the mistake of assuming they “key” people in our lives will be the managers we report and their managers. To a degree this might be true, but the truth is many people work for bad managers. And even if you're lucky enough to work for some good ones, why stop there? There are learning opportunities all around you.
- Really good salespeople (how did you get me to buy that?
- Civil servants really into their disciplines
- Musicians focused on creating
- Senior execs in professional associations
- Public speakers
The list goes on.
Here's what I've found out about learning from exposure to others: almost everyone will help you if you just ask them.
In fact, I really can't remember anyone ever saying no to me. People love to help.
So how do you get people to give you a little of their time and a lot of their wisdom?
- Be realistic about time constraints and demands
- Never try to sell them or leverage them – simply enjoy the experience
- Always ask what you can do for them
I have thoroughly enjoyed a phone call here and there, a cup of coffee with a new friend, the idle chit chat after a meeting or a conference. Its gratifying when I can give some perspective or ideas to people actively trying to learn.
Am I busy? Of course: most of us are. Do I make time for others? Yes: most of us do.
People really do love to help.
Want to increase your person development by hanging with key people?