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What is the biggest obstacle to learning?

I was taught in school to not make mistakes. My teachers would always count my incorrect answers, compare them to my correctly memorized answers and calculate the ration between the two. 75%. 83%. 90%. They never asked me what I learned, only what I memorized.

We learn via trial and error. We were designed to make mistakes. We learned how to walk, talk, drive; almost everything we know we learned via correcting our mistakes.

I loved playing football. We practiced almost every day. Practice consisted of repeating the same play over and over until it was approved by the coach. We kept correcting our mistakes until we got it right. Once we mastered one play from the playbook in that fashion, we were taught another one using the same method. Mistake, correct. Mistake, correct. Eventually we learned the entire playbook.

We learn real estate the same way. Try as we might, we cannot teach you how to take a listing in class. The environment is too sterile. If it were a traditional class, we would cover all the steps involved in taking a listing and have the student memorize each and every step until they could recall the list perfectly. Then we would hand them a test and say, “Tell us what you know about listing a house by answering these 50 questions.” The student who paid the most attention and had the best memory would receive the highest ration score and would be deemed to be “smart”. Those whose mind wandered during the “teaching process” or who didn’t memorize as many answers would be deemed less smart.

The real problem is that no matter who scored what, no one knew anything about how to take a listing.

The only way to learn how to become a top notch professional listing agent is to go out into the breakfast rooms of the city and mess up ten, twelve or fifteen presentations. You can now successfully discover what you don’t know. You discover what did not work. You correct your mistakes. Go again. Make some more. Correct those. Go again. Make some new mistakes. Correct them. Go again. Mistake, correct. Mistake, correct.

Then the market place will grade you. It will tell you when you have passed your exam, not by memorizing the “right answers” but by having the courage to face the unknown and master your craft using nature’s prescribed method: trial and error. How will the market place tell you? Sellers will begin to list with you. The more you repeat this process, the more you learn and the “smarter” you become. This is the process the most successful among us understand.

They fail their way to success.

When we memorize answers, we have knowledge of the subject. But we don’t truly know it until we can do it.

Talking isn’t teaching, listening isn’t learning, and memorization of right answers is no indication of a person’s intelligence or ability.

I heard a story long ago that has stuck with me.

I grew up in a small town near NASA. In 1969 we landed a man on the moon. What percentage of the time was the Apollo space craft ON COURSE? I heard 3%. It was on the correct course only 3% of the entire time! What was it doing 97% of the time? Correcting its flight path. Mistake, correct. Mistake, correct. Mistake, correct. Success!

Do you know someone who makes the same mistakes over and over again? It’s seems like they just don’t learn from their mistakes. They do the presentations but still don’t know how to respond to simple concerns like “I don’t want to give out a key.” Or “I don’t want a sign in my yard.” “My home is worth more than that.” The home sits on the market until it expires because it is overpriced, fewer people know it’s for sale and the people who do know have trouble getting in it.

What is the biggest obstacle to learning? EGO. Show me someone who makes the same mistakes over and over and I will show you someone with a huge ego. True professionals handle their mistakes graciously and with humor. They know mistakes are a gift from Heaven. They appreciate them because they just learned something new; they just got smarter; they just, once again - thank goodness! - successfully discovered something else they did not know!

So, do true professionals justify their mistakes? Do the blame others for their mistakes? No, of course not. They get the lesson.

Personally, I have made millions, maybe even billions of mistakes. That’s why I know so much.

Now go out there, take action, and discover what you don’t know! Then, at the end of the day, review your mistakes and ask yourself this question “What did I learn today?”

Thank you for taking time to read this.

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