Learning from Others

People Who Know More Than You

These are potentially the most fruitful sources of information in many areas of your work and your life. However, they may not all be as helpful as you would like.

People Who Know Less Than You

It’s easy to dismiss people who know less than you as unlikely sources of helpful information. But that’s a mistake. People who know less than you can still provide you with some learning, often by such means as:

  • Highlighting issues, questions, and problems that may be more important than you previously realized,
  • Providing opportunities for you to review with them what you already know, and thereby gain new insights or syntheses that previously escaped you,
  • Sharing valuable information they have that you don’t, perhaps on a peripheral or even unrelated topic.

People With Highly Specialized Knowledge

Although Leonardo da Vinci was a master of nearly all his contemporary arts, skills, and disciplines, today there is so much more information in the world that most people tend toward extreme specialization. As a result, the person you consult for one matter probably knows way more than you hope to learn about that subject, while possibly knowing way less than you about others.

People Who Won’t Share What They Know

There’s not much you can learn from people who clam up. I remember working at a factory when I was in high school, assigned to assist a specialist who was the only one in the factory who knew how to build a particular product.

  • Observations they allow,
  • Answers to questions, carefully phrased to avoid arousing their suspicions,
  • Other people who interact with the close-mouthed person, and
  • Your own research, starting from whatever little bits you have learned.

People Who “Know Everything”

These people tend to be firehoses of information, too, but unfortunately they usually spew a mix of both accurate and inaccurate information. The bad news is there’s no easy way to tell which is which.

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Robert Moskowitz

Robert Moskowitz

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Robert Moskowitz is a successful, award-winning writer and consultant, and the author of “How to Organize Your Work and Your Life.”