Learning and Timing

by Thomas Frasher on December 4, 2009

long_range_targetMy article this week is about timing. There is an old saying “Experience is what you get, right after you needed it”.

There are things that you can time, the coffee maker, the bus schedule and so forth. There are many more things that you cannot time and attempting to time them is a mistake.

For Example: timing the stock market, similar to gambling in Las Vegas, where everyone knows the game is rigged and plays anyway. Attempting to time the stock market will eventually get you if you are playing alone. That’s why successful stock brokers get paid no matter the outcome of your transaction with them.

Timing certain types of projects is also a mistake. I work in the large scale software industry and if a project is an addition to an existing product, timing makes sense and indeed is necessary. If, on the other hand, we are building something completely new to the world, we cannot time it, and we are almost never able to resist the urge.

For things that are new to the world, much must be learned, therefor the time required is the time needed to acquire the knowledge to complete the project; be that brain surgery or a new software product. The knowledge and the skill must be acquired over time, a practice must be developed that retains that skill and then the project can be timed. Usually at that point you have completed at least the first pass and are ready to move on. Only after you have the experience can you time the next iteration, and even then, if you are doing something that is new to you, your team or the world, you need to take the time to learn.

I’ve said is almost all of my articles, you will not get where you are going alone, you need help. Help can come in many forms: parents, friends, acquaintances, government structures, business structures, etc. The number one thing that, as business people, we can find to help us are teachers. Find someone better at what you do than you are and learn from them. Learn everything you can, from everyone you can. Be discriminating in your teachers though, find the best, if you find someone better, switch. Move fast and learn to learn fast.

With learning comes obligation. As I said before, you need to learn from great teachers, you must have something to offer them in return like money, time, etc. In return you must spend some of your human capital to learn: time, lost opportunity, money etc. Education comes with a price, you must pay it. When you stop learning you are finished.

Another point about the obligation of learning; you must teach. There is a Buddhist maxim “To know and to not do is to not know”. Teaching cements your knowledge, it is a mechanism of our minds that when we teach we learn as well, the subject we are teaching. So to learn, you must teach, find a student, and be a student.

Go find something new to learn! Stretch your mind and teach someone else something new! Do it for yourself.

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