During this recent summer, my family and I were fortunate to travel to Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. It was somewhat of a risky vacation because we were unsure how big of an impact Covid would have on our travels.
It worked out great! Interestingly, 99% of the tourists were European. We were asked for our vaccination cards at tourist sites and even restaurants. In Salzburg, the receptionist at the hotel noted that we were the first Americans he had seen since the pandemic started.
While touring the picturesque city of Salzburg, we were often reminded that this is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can only imagine the many different types of souvenirs bearing his name.
Upon returning to the States, I did some reading on Mozart’s life. I also streamed a documentary related to the famous composer.
During this informal research, I discovered that Mozart made it a habit to learn from other musicians who were prominent during this time, including Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederic Handel, and Gottfried van Swieten.
Although Mozart possessed unparalleled talents as a composer, he was open-minded to learning from others. By seeking knowledge from other accomplished musicians, he improved his works immensely.
For many years, I felt I could get ahead by my using my learned experiences alone. Instead of reaching out to others for advice and help, I did my own research hoping to find the information I needed for the next step.
While I had some success with this solo approach, my progress was limited. For example, when launching an IT company in 1999, I quickly hit a wall because web development required strong coding skills, which I lacked.
My skills were strong when it came to business development, but launching my business required advanced technological knowledge. So, I had clients who were interested in the product idea, but the product was missing.
Eventually, after struggling for several years, I decided to team-up with a friend who had excellent technical skills. He understood the industry well, and he could write the code to make the features and functionality come alive.
I also made it a habit to ask others for advice, something that can be difficult for people with Type A personalities. I knew I might sometimes receive tough feedback, but it was necessary to hear it and learn from it. I had confidence the people who were providing this advice were interested in helping me succeed.
Here are some of the ways I asked for feedback and guidance:
- “We want to increase our rates by 15%. What do I need to consider before taking this action?”
- “Many of our clients would like us to customize the services for them. What are the pros and cons to this approach?”
- “I’m having a tough time with an employee who is failing to meet expectations. What information should I collect before reaching out to this employee?”
On December 5, 1791, Mozart died at his home in Vienna. He was only 35 years old at the time of his passing. Between 1756 and 1791, he composed more than 600 works that still live on today.
As I discover more about Mozart and his desire to learn from others, I’m reminded humility must come first. The sooner I accept that there are areas where I lack knowledge, the quicker I can seek guidance from those people who care about my success.