The Best Advice I Ever Received

“Shut Up, Listen, and Learn”

I first started blogging in 2008 when I was thirteen-years-old. Like most writers, I look back on my early work and want to die. I felt like I knew it all, had seen it all, and was going to do it all. Little did I know, like all thirteen-year-olds, I was [objectively] dumb. I didn’t know much.

A few years later, after going through a couple of different Blogspot and WordPress blogs, I finally became a contributor to a business and technology blog. It was a position that would change my trajectory and spark a true passion for media and publishing. I finally had a legitimate outlet and an actual audience.

I would eventually become the Managing Editor of that blog. And in that role, I began writing more opinion-based content. And again, as a high schooler with opinions, they were [objectively] crap.

It was around this time that I received some valuable advice from a friend who was more experienced in the tech industry:

“Before you start developing strong opinions, take the time to first shut up, listen, and learn.”

It’s funny how you can sometimes hear something, but not quite fully understand it at the time. Advice is hard to truly digest when you are immature and, admittedly, arrogant.

The aforementioned advice is something I have thought a lot about recently. I’m about to graduate college and enter a career in which I still have a lot to learn. I’m fortunate to have surrounded myself with really wonderful and wise mentors and friends. The biggest lesson I have learned is that I have so much more to learn.

I think this advice is also very relevant for the political age we live in.

Information is available at a level never before seen in human history. Anything and everything is at our finger tips, and yet we don’t use it. Instead of researching (and I mean actual research, not just reading a few articles), we skim over some quick facts and jump to conclusions. We make ill-informed opinions, and whenever some dare challenge us on them, we engage in outright warfare instead of engaging in an open dialogue where we are willing to learning about their perspective.

“Shut up, listen, and learn” is not only a great lesson for one’s career, but one’s life. There’s value in sitting on the sidelines for a while, learning as much as you can about the game, before jumping in.