My first love is learning, which is why I keep my brain on autopilot when it comes to absorbing everything around me and extracting lessons from what I see and hear. It borders on an addiction.
Extracting knowledge, however, is not enough. You must be able to apply what you’ve learned to other situations – even situations that are far removed from the one where the original knowledge was acquired. I like to refer to this skill as “knowledge redeployment.”
Because time is a limiting factor in life, knowledge redeployment is a key ingredient when it comes to success. If you have to relearn the same lesson over and over again, you’d better figure out a way to live as long as Methuselah if you hope to succeed.
If you keep your eyes and ears open and raise your level of awareness, you’ll be amazed at how many lessons you can learn from even seemingly innocuous experiences. Sometimes, you gain new knowledge. Other times, it’s just a reminder of something you already knew. The objective is to make mental notes of what you observe, then apply the lesson to other situations. I offer the following example to make my point:
A friend offered to give me two tickets to an upcoming Washington Wizards/Atlanta Hawks basketball game. He said he would have someone deliver the tickets to the Will Call window, and all I had to do was show my I.D. when I arrived.
As always, my learning antennae were on autopilot. And here are the lessons this experience reinforced.
Lesson No. 1: Don’t depend on others to follow through.
My son and I strolled up to the Will Call window at the Verizon Center. I acted as though I had absolutely nothing to worry about. But the truth of the matter is that it was all an act.
I’ve learned the hard way over the years not to have tickets left at Will Call, so it didn’t shock me that my friend’s tickets were missing. It immediately brought to mind one of my oldest rules: When the ball is on the one-yard line, never risk a fumble. Carry it over yourself.
When it comes to tickets, that means making a special trip to pick them up – or, if necessary, sending someone you can trust in your place – rather than relying on someone you don’t know to take them to the Will Call window.
Failing that, have the tickets overnighted to you. Paying the extra $10-$15 is worth the peace of mind. Tickets are like a check that hasn’t yet cleared the bank. The only time you actually have a ticket to a game is when it’s in your hand.
But this isn’t just about tickets. “Will Call” is a metaphor for an infinite number of other situations in life. The problem with leading a will-call life is that there are too many lazy, negligent people in the world who possess a remarkable talent for not following through.
Whether it involves personal or business matters, to the extent you lead a will-call life, you relinquish control of your destiny to others.
Lesson No. 2: Assess the supply-and-demand aspects of every situation.
I decided to go outside to see if there were any scalpers around. Since the game had already started, I figured their tickets would be relatively cheap.
When I was in my late teens, I was in the produce business, and I learned a lot about perishable inventory. Whatever you don’t sell by the end of the day is a problem. If you’re selling strawberries, for example, you had better have a place to refrigerate them. If you do, maybe you’ll have one more day to get rid of them.
But to play it safe, as the sun begins to set, you start offering your leftover strawberries at a discount. And with each passing minute, the discount becomes greater.
If a scalper still has tickets once a game begins, he’s holding perishable merchandise. You can sometimes sell questionable strawberries the next day, but not yesterday’s tickets. When the game is over, the tickets are over. Scalpers buy their inventory in the hopes of making a profit, maybe even a killing. But they also run the risk of taking a bath if some unforeseen factor comes into play.
Lesson No. 3: The first offer is never the best offer.
As my son and I walked outside, a scalper approached and offered me two tickets (face value $75) for $45 apiece. Not only did I have Lesson No. 2 firmly in mind, I also recalled something my father taught me years ago: The first offer is never the best offer!
I pleaded a shortage of cash and began to walk away, confident the scalper would pursue me. And, sure enough, he did – immediately. Just like that, the price dropped to $35 a ticket.
It was tempting to take them off his hands at that price, but I couldn’t resist pushing the envelope a bit further. I told him that $25 each was all I could afford, whereupon he acted insulted.
I shrugged and said, “I don’t blame you for not wanting to sell those tickets for $25. If I were you, I’d try to find someone who would pay me closer to what they’re worth.” As those words came out of my mouth, I was, of course, cognizant of the fact that the sidewalk in front of the Verizon Center was almost devoid of people.
Within seconds, the scalper said, “Okay, I’m taking a big loss on these tickets (a line scalpers always use to evoke guilt), but you can have them for $25 apiece.”
It wasn’t as good a deal as it would have been if my friend’s free tickets had shown up at the Will Call window, but by redeploying knowledge learned from past experiences, I was able to get $150 worth of tickets for $50.
If you become good at this kind of negotiating skill when it comes to purchasing something as substantial as real estate, you might just end up making a fortune.
Lesson No. 4: Most perceived bad situations are easily resolved.
This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. Experience has taught me that most perceived problems never come to pass, which means we do an awful lot of worrying for nothing. But even those problems that do come to pass can usually be resolved much easier than expected. Bottom line: My son and I ended up seeing the game, it didn’t cost much, and we had a great time.
Focus on becoming an insatiable learner and raising your level of awareness. Then, use your heightened state of awareness to redeploy the knowledge you’ve gained through past experiences. Becoming adept at knowledge redeployment can make a huge difference in the quality of your life.[Ed. Note: Robert Ringer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. His recently released work, Restoring the American Dream: The Defining Voice in the Movement for Liberty, is a clarion call to liberty-loving citizens to take back the country. Ringer has appeared on numerous national talk shows and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron’s, and The New York Times. To sign up for his e-letter, A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World, visit www.robertringer.com.]