Last Updated on October 14, 2022
“It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It is better to learn from other people’s mistakes.”Warren Buffett
One of the most important lessons I learned early in my adult life is to learn from other people’s mistakes.
This tip is applicable in most areas of our lives, whether it be in relationships, studies, personal finance, business, or life in general.
Learning from other people’s missteps can save us from wasting a lot of effort and energy, money, and, most importantly, time.
If we can only be observant of other people’s habits and dispositions, we can have a clue of what went wrong and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes.
Have a values-driven approach
However simple learning from other people’s mistakes may seem, it is still not practiced by many, which unfortunately results in repeating the cycle.
But before we can tell what a mistake is, we need to take a closer look at our values system first.
Our perspective of what should and should not be done will change depending on how we view life.
Once we are clear of what we want to achieve, looking at avoidable habits and attitudes will be simpler.
For example, if you want to start investing in the stock market or you want to learn freelancing, you’ll first need to understand how it works by reading books, watching video tutorials, learning from mentors, and more.
Doing so will give you a broader perspective of what you need to know and the mistakes you can hopefully avoid.
Here are four things you can do to learn from other people’s mistakes.
1. Listen to other people.
Older people have the advantage of age and experience over youth. Through that vast stream of knowledge, it is impossible not to learn a thing or two about what you want to know.
However, it is crucial to consider which older people you’re going to learn from. One consideration is to look for experienced people in the field that you also want to excel in.
For example, if you want to learn more about business, you need to find someone who ventured into business — both who succeeded and failed. If you’re going to learn about marriage, you better talk to long-time married couples, as well as those who got separated.
Listening to other people’s experiences of past mistakes and failures can significantly shorten your learning curve and avoid costly mistakes.
But always take their advice with a grain of salt. There are so many variables that resulted in a positive or negative outcome. One thing that worked for them may not work for you.
Related: Why We Should Always Ask Questions
2. Observe people’s words and actions.
We can learn many things about a person’s behavior by mere observation. Though it is impossible to know everything, these observations can offer helpful insights.
If you read my post regarding my five mentors, I included the “anti-mentors” or the people you don’t want to imitate.
Though some of their life decisions are questionable, these people still offer many clues of what to do or not to do, especially from financial and personal matters.
For example, some people would say that they can’t save money because their salary is low. However, I soon notice that they buy unnecessary things or spend on the “wants.”
3. Read biographies.
The most successful people often publish biographies or autobiographies. And they usually highlight the mistakes they made in the past.
The great thing about these books is how they usually celebrate their failures and mistakes more often than their successes. They highlight these mistakes that can be costly but are avoidable.
Hopefully, we can read more of these books and learn a thing or two about the common mistakes that will save us from spending money, time, and effort.
4. Watch documentaries
For those who are not so fond of reading, documentaries and docuseries are a great alternative.
These shows are an excellent way to learn from other people how they did things during their time. It can also include the things that, fortunately, they did right or the things their competitors (business) did wrong.
When watching these documentaries, it is essential to look at subtle clues or the gaps in the stories they may have left out.
As the old saying goes, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
There are so many books written about how failures can change an entire generation’s destiny throughout history.
Some people may also argue that making a mistake yourself is more personal than learning from others, making it easier to remember.
However, not everyone has the luxury of making a mistake themselves and having the courage and resources to bounce back.
So, though there are things that are better learned through experience, there are also things that are better learned from other people.
Life is not a race, so don’t be in such a hurry that you forget to take caution. Keep moving, and always trust in God’s plans.