Lifetime Learner: Staying Humble to Keep Growing

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Ego Is the Enemy" by Ryan Holiday. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is it important to be a lifetime learner? How can embracing lifelong learning propel you further on your quest to success?

When people reach a certain level of success, they often become blinded by it—believing that they know everything there is know and that there is no need to learn more. In contrast, lifetime learner mentality is about being humble and accepting that learning never ends.

Keep reading for more about lifetime learner mentality.

Become a Lifetime Learner

Ego can interfere with your ability to achieve your goals by convincing you that you don’t need improvement, that you know everything you need to know, and that you can stop learning. However, the need to learn never actually ends. Even people who have mastered a skill and are at the top of their game can still learn ways to get better. To counter the false belief that you are beyond needing improvement and to open yourself to a life of learning:

  • Honestly assess yourself and your shortcomings. 
  • Accept that others know more than you do.
  • Be open to feedback, no matter how negative. 
  • Constantly be on the lookout for the next challenge, so that you can continue to learn and grow.

An example of a lifetime learner was Kirk Hammett, the guitarist for the blockbuster metal band Metallica. When Hammett was offered the job, Metallica was an up-and-coming group quickly making a name for themselves regionally. Hammett could have thought to himself, “I’ve made it—I’ve achieved success,” and spent the rest of his career coasting on his existing skills. However, he reacted differently; he decided despite the success he’d already achieved, he’d like to achieve more. He wasn’t as good a guitar player as he’d like to be, and he set about striving to correct that. 

He found a teacher—Joe Satriani, who would himself end up widely regarded as one of the greatest guitar players ever—and subjected himself to Satriani’s rigorous instruction. Satriani later explained what made Hammett a better student than other guitarists he taught was Hammett’s willingness to receive harsh, honest feedback, and to work diligently to correct what needed improving.

Find Teachers Everywhere

You can find mentors and teachers by paying qualified people for instruction, but don’t ignore the free instruction that’s most likely available to you as well. 

  • Approach people in your industry who have become successful and ask them for help. People have a natural instinct to want to help others, and those who have found success are often happy to pass along their expertise. 
  • Study historical figures or people who have gone before you whom you look up to. The challenges they faced may hold lessons you can apply to your life. 
  • Take advantage of the wealth of training courses, books, and online instruction available. Technology has provided easy access to a world of learning; there’s no excuse these days for failing to take advantage of these resources. 
Lifetime Learner: Staying Humble to Keep Growing

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Ryan Holiday's "Ego Is the Enemy" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Ego Is the Enemy summary :

  • How to resist your emotions so you can keep thinking clearly
  • Why your passion may be preventing you from achieving your goals
  • How to apply the philosophy of Stoicism for success as a leader

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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