84. What did you learn today?

A conversation with a good friend, while having lunch a few weeks ago, got me thinking about an essential habit we all would benefit enormously by adopting.

My friend is an extremely successful real estate investor. Over a 25 year span he has assembled an immensely impressive portfolio of real estate from Vancouver to Toronto.

He is an off-the radar zillionaire who has virtually no public presence and only those closest to him have any inkling of his immense wealth. He lives a simple life and invests a great deal of his time and resources into helping others.

Like so many ambitious people his empire began with the purchase of an old, rundown house that he lived in and spent all of his after-work hours renovating. It took him more than two years to complete the renovations as he did every piece of work himself and sometimes had to wait for several paychecks to pass before he had the funds to buy the materials necessary for the next phase.

Having sold that property for a handsome profit he purchased another, did the same thing again, sold it purchased another and so on, continuing to do so and adding duplexes, four-plexes, small apartment buildings, tiny commercial properties, individual condominiums to his ever-growing inventory of rental properties.

To say he is obsessive about real estate would be an understatement and during our lunch a few weeks ago he mentioned that he was going to Los Angeles to attend a weeklong course on property management and would be following that with a four-day course in Toronto on real estate investing.

For as long as I have known him his time has always been spent studying and learning about real estate, mortgages, financing, and the many things that go into mastering his industry.

So when he mentioned his upcoming educational vacations I asked him why, with all his success, and with his obvious mastery and knowledge of all facets of the industry, he continues to attend as many courses as he does, his answer was simple.

He looked at me and with a smile said that many years ago a wise mentor had said something to him so profound that it still sticks with him to this day.

His mentor said, “What counts is what you learn after you already know everything.” My friend chuckled as he recited that quote and said that has been the constant driver behind his success. He has never allowed himself to rest on his laurels or to convince himself that he knows enough to achieve his goals.

He went on to say that what made his commitment to The Habit of Continuous Learning so integral to his success was that every single time he read a new book, listened to a new lecture or attended a new course he learned at least one new thing that he was able to take and put into practice in order to increase the size of his empire.

We have in the past talked about the statement that “Knowledge is power.” I have never believed this to be true. I have long believed that knowledge is a powerful contributor to power but without action it is a useless commodity. What we know does not make us powerful; what we do with what we know is where the power lies.

My friend, by his lifelong commitment to The Habit of Continuous Learning is testament to the fact that the more we learn, the more knowledge we gain, the more choices we have in terms of the actions we take and by taking knowledge-based action anything and everything becomes possible.

Every time I meet with my friend I come away wiser and our lunch that day was no exception. I walked back to my car invigorated by his enthusiasm for knowledge and his commitment to acquire as much of it as possible and then apply it in ways that are beneficial not just to himself but to those whose lives have been enriched by his success.

I’ve always been an avid reader but that does not mean that I have been an avid student. My friend told me that if I want to be the best at what I do I need to constantly remind myself that “What really counts is what we learn after we already know everything” and to incorporate The Habit of Continuous Learning into everything I do.

I have no doubt my friend would have succeeded mightily in life even without the wisdom of his mentor but he would be the first to agree that using The Habit of Continuous Learning as his guiding light has bestowed upon him colossal advantages in a competitive world and has enabled him to reach heights loftier than any he could have imagined.

Should we all adoptThe Habit of Continuous Learning?

What could possibly be the downside?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this
.

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