“The Cheapest Lesson in Life”

What is the biggest lie you’ve ever been told? Santa Claus? The Tooth Fairy? The Easter Bunny? Yeah, those were big, but I’ve never heard of anyone failing in life because their mother lied about old St. Nick.

The lie that has had the greatest impact on my life, was the lie that “Experience is the best teacher.” You’re probably saying to yourself, “What are you talking about, experience is the best teacher.” Well I beg to differ, and I hope this article gives you some food for thought.

First of all, experience is not the “best” teacher. It’s a “good” teacher, but not the best. A better teacher is “other people’s experience.” I call this the O-P-E Principle. Matter of fact, I believe that you should only learn from your own experience if it’s the “only” teacher available. But most of the time, it’s not.

Learning from other people’s experience can help you achieve more, faster, by cutting your life’s learning curve in half and also sparing you a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. Haven’t you heard some of the most successful people you know say, “I wouldn’t be here today, if it wasn’t for the people who had gone before me.”? Now you ask yourself, do you really think you have to repeat the mistakes that others have made in order to succeed? No, that’s ridiculous. But society would have us believe it’s the best way to learn. I believe if you’re going to make a mistake, try to make it a new one.

At the age of 24, I became the youngest professor ever hired to teach full- time at a state university in Florida. Some people, even colleagues, thought I was some kind of genius or well connected. Just the contrary, I was a typical college student. However, what set me apart was the fact that I knew exactly what I wanted to do at an early age, and I learned from some of the best people who were already doing. That’s it.

Still not convinced about eliminating “experience is the best teacher” lie? Let me ask you this, have you ever gone to prison before? If not, would you like to go for five to 10 years? I didn’t think so. Well, let me ask you this, do you know someone or about someone who has gone to prison before? In your personal opinion, do you think prison is a good or bad place to be? Now here’s the key question, how do you “really” know if it’s a good or bad place if you’ve never “experienced” it for yourself? That’s right, what you know and how you feel about prison is a result of what you’ve seen, read, or heard about it. In other words, you’ve learned from the experience of others, not your own.

Now if you’d prefer to learn from the so-called “best teacher,” experience, why don’t you go out and do something that will land you in prison just to prove that prison is as bad as society says it is? I know it sounds crazy, but that’s how we sound when we encourage people to learn by experience. Again, experience is a good teacher if it’s the only teacher that’s available. As a young man growing up in the ghetto, I buried five of my friends before I was 16 years old. They all died from being shot. Why in the world would I have to “experience” being shot myself to realize that it could put me in an early grave? This O-P-E Principle has impacted my life more than I could ever explain in a lifetime, let alone an article. I encourage you to really think about it.

Using the O-P-E Principle, here are five of the simplest, but most powerful, success steps you can take right now as a college student that could change your life forever:

Step #1: Determine exactly what it is you want out of life, and write it down. I believe that If you don’t know, you can’t grow.

Step #2: Question your motives for what you want, and write it down. Ask yourself, do you want this to serve others or yourself? If your reasons are primarily self-serving, the success won’t last.

Step #3: Find out who’s getting the results you want and make a list of their names. If you can’t find someone who has achieved the success you want, don’t stop until you do. Whatever you want to do, someone has probably done it before and has done it successfully.

Step #4: Find out specifically, how and what they did to get the results you want. Read their books, listen to their tapes, interview them, write them, get introduced to them, beg them if you have to.

Step #5: Take action on the information they gave you in step #4, and stay committed to the answer you gave in step #5.

This is not rocket science, but many people spend their lives bitter, miserable, and resentful because they never learned from the successes and failures of others. I tell my students that there are only two ways to learn in life: you can either buy the experience or borrow it. Unless you have money and time to burn, I encourage you to “borrow” as much experience as possible. It’s one of the few things in life that will never put you in debt.

Look forward to much more information on this topic from RealWorld University. We’ll be bringing you information, ideas, and strategies from some of the world’s leading experts and authorities in this field and many others. We believe that experience may be a good teacher, but other people’s experience is a better teacher. Our motto at RWU is, “The key to wisdom is knowing where to look for the answers.” Thanks for dropping by RealWorld University. Come back soon, and tell a friend. Remember to live purposefully. God bless!

  • Share/Save/Bookmark