This post first appeared (very slight changes were made) in April of this year, in the ASTD Career Development blog. The lessons are very much relevant to Training Station readers, so I post it here for your reference.
Albert Einstein was one of the most successful scientists of all time, whose discoveries radically changed the way we understand the world of physics. The relativity theory, the prediction of light’s deflection by gravity, the founding of relativistic cosmology, and the zero-point energy concept are only a few of his most relevant scientific contributions, but he is known to have provided thousands more to the world.
That being said, Einstein was also an inspirational figure well beyond the walls of universities and scientific institutes. Ever quotable, with a deep sense of humor and humility, he had a particular affection for children and their seemingly limitless curiosity. He preached for constantly moving forward, and he joined others in advocating for continued learning and discovery in life. As he said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
The L&D field and world of business can learn many things from Einstein, helping to inspire learners on the subjects of knowledge, goals, experience and overcoming setbacks:
1. Be Curious
Einstein said that he has “no special talent,” it’s just that he is “passionately curious.” So, what intrigues your curiosity? Wouldn’t you like to know why one person is able to succeed where many others failed? The pursuit of following your curiosity is just one thing that can bring success.
2. Be Imaginative
Einstein said that “imagination is everything.” According to him, it’s even “more important than knowledge,” since it’s able to give you a “preview of what’s coming in your way.” Think about this, are you giving imagination enough importance? Are you exercising this ability daily? When you will have learned to use the true power of imagination, that’s when you will learn to deal with obstacles and setbacks more effectively.
3. Be Gritty
According to Einstein, “A person who never makes mistakes is a person who never tried anything new.” You should never be afraid of making mistakes, but witness the power of making them instead. The only way to improve yourself as a person is through facing setbacks, and if you never face them, you’ll never learn anything from life. Einstein said he wasn’t a “very smart man,” but he used to “think of the problems longer.” What we can learn from this is that if you’re willing to persevere in what you do, you are most likely to reach your final goals sooner than you might have thought. Some people say that the value of a postage stamp lies in its ability of sticking to something until it finally gets there. Be like a postage stamp; follow your goals until you would have reached them!
4. Be Focused
Another quote that comes to mind when thinking of Einstein are: “You cannot drive safely when kissing a pretty girl, because if you do that, you’re simply not giving the kiss its deserved attention.” What we learn from this is that you can’t chase two rabbits at the same time. Well, you can, but the results are not really the ones you would have wanted. Always focus on the present and at what you’re currently doing, and you’re most likely to have success in everything you do.
5. Be Valuable
Einstein said that you should “strive not to be of success,” but rather “to be of value” instead. Only when you would have become valuable, the success would come to you by itself. Try to discover your hidden gifts and talents, and see how you can benefit others with their aid. This way, you’ll harness both value and success by your side.
6. Be Now
Einstein said that he “never thinks of the future,” since “it’d come soon enough” anyway. The possible reason why he said this is because it’s impossible to address properly any future issues without living in the present. You can’t change neither yesterday nor tomorrow by doing nothing, so it’s of utmost importance to focus your efforts on what you’re doing right now and live the moment, since you won’t get another chance to meet with it.
As we can see, business professionals can still take much inspiration form Albert Einstein when they come to work each day, on a variety of levels. While he may have left our world generations ago, his wisdom, humor and perspective seem as timely today as they have ever been. My advice: continue riding that bicycle.