6 Unteachable Things

There are things in life which are unteachable, yet we must learn them in order to be successful.

Fahad Hassan
Nov 21, 2013 · 3 min read

How do you teach someone how to have a vision? Or to have faith? Or persevere in an endeavor when the end is almost a mathematical certainty?

I can’t seem to recall any book, class, or semester in all my years of schooling devoted to any of these “learnable” moments, yet somehow I “learned” what it was like to have a vision of the future, believe in things I can’t necessarily prove, and persevere in areas of my work when conventional wisdom would have told me to quit.

I wonder how many of these “unteachable” lessons exist and what percentage of our day requires us to deploy “taught” versus “non-taught” lessons throughout our lives? This in itself is a very scary thought. How do you learn something that can’t be taught, but is invaluable to your success?

When I look back at all the “unteachable things” that I ultimately learned, there were a few patterns that stood out in my memory bank that I think could help others recognize their “untaught” yet learned “things” in their lives. They are as follows:

  1. Get involved. There’s something about getting your hands dirty that there is absolutely no substitute for in life. Get a “feel” for things. Just like your muscles need to be exercised, so does your instinct. You can’t hone your instincts by reading about it.
  2. Talk to as many people as possible. The most profound thing I’ve learned from meeting and talking to people about anything in life is that there is rarely a single solution to anything you tackle. This has given me confidence to pursue endeavors in my own way without worrying about whether my path is correct or not. There is no such thing is the perfect path.
  3. Try things where your failure rate is going to be high, almost 100%. My favorite Warren Buffett quote is, “If you’re batting 100% in life, you’re playing in the minor leagues, not the big leagues.” The only way you’re going to conquer your fears is by going over the edge (at times) and realizing you’re still alive.
  4. Be bold. In the business world we are always talking about “disrupting” an industry. I heard someone say the other day, “Don’t hire industry insiders, if you’re trying to disrupt an industry.” Again, there’s no formula for learning how to be bold, but you’ll feel it once you get enough complaints about how crazy you sound at times.
  5. Think big. Can you really be taught how to think big? I don’t think so. An investor can tell you they only want to invest if they think you can build a billion dollar company some day; or a football coach might encourage you to work hard so you can win the Super Bowl (the ultimate prize). These seem like big accomplishments, and they are, but believe it or not — you can go even further with your dreams. That’s what I mean by big. Challenge yourself to think so big, it almost sounds crazy. Then go forth in that direction.
  6. Anything in life worth doing, is worth overdoing. I can’t recall if that was a from a tv show or something, but I absolutely love that saying. What does “overdoing” something mean? For me, if it’s not something I’m willing to do all. the. time. It’s not worth my time. I get obsessed with the task at hand and I think that’s the only way to become great at something. This applies to work, sports, health, relationships — give it everything you have.

This is by no means an exhaustive list or scientific formula for learning “unteachable” things, but my hope is that it acts as a very simple guide to help others become more conscience of how much they actually know and employ on a day to day basis. Your formal education is very important and it definitely matters, but realize there’s more to you and your abilities than what a school or university has told you you’re worth. And in the end, these “things” we’ve learned without actually being taught, can be the most important guiding principles throughout our entire lives.

Written by

Entrepreneur, blogger, tech enthusiast, education reformer, sports fan.

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