It is very convenient to decide we should only learn from people we like and ignore people we don’t like. The easiest thing in the world is to find a point of criticism of someone or decide we find them offensive and disagreeable.
And while we certainly have the right, it ignores a very simple fact, what these people we don’t like or find disagreeable, have done, have learned, or have to offer, is still objectively valuable.
The easiest example of this we can use is Steve Jobs. Make no mistake, Steve Jobs was a great man, but by all accounts he wasn’t necessarily a good man throughout most of his life.
Yet there is so much value we can learn from his example and from his accomplishments. Think of the utility of what he achieved and built during his lifetime, it is undeniable.
Sometimes “Bad People” Teach Good Lessons
Imagine if you had to exclude from your life every product, and invention, and the utility value of everyone who failed to live up to your personal standards or your sense of morality; or even that you just plain didn’t like?
You’d likely be left with nothing to consume in terms of entertainment. You would not be able to become properly educated and well-rounded. Most of us would not be able to purchase most products or services. If we were to follow that practice to its logical conclusion, it takes us to a place we cannot go.
The most successful people in the world, often fail to live up to our moral standards. You don’t have to live your life like them, but you should probably invest like them. You probably shouldn’t decide to make every decision in opposition to them because you dislike them or disagree with them.
Only listening to, or learning from people you like or agree with is limiting. You’ve probably had teachers or coaches you didn’t like that helped you be successful.
THE STRUGGLE OF MORALITY VS UTILITY
While some would interpret this as abandoning the notion of morality and standards and accountability, they are taking the wrong lesson from this.
It is about understanding the value of pragmatism and utility. We are going to have to accept that other people will not always live up to our standards, and they don’t have to, but we shouldn’t turn our nose up at their knowledge or their results.
It’s been said that in any good deal, both parties leave slightly disappointed.
When people provide us value, we have to accept that we may not be 100% happy with their character, or we may not get along with them, but that we value what they produced for us. I don’t need to agree with someone to value them and to respect their abilities, their work ethic, or the quality of work they produced for me. It’s a more than reasonable compromise to make.
Compromise is Not a Dirty Word
In terms of a personal lesson, I often didn’t agree with the personal character of many of the people I worked with or worked for as an employee.
Yet it was essential for me to learn from them in order to do my job well, and make myself useful to the customers and clients. It would have not been possible without them.
We may not even completely agree with the character of our parents or other elder family members. As we gain experience in life and learn to challenge things, we will agree less and less. Ignoring the value of their lessons because we are disappointed in them as people would be willfully ignorant.
Even within my own journey as an entrepreneur and content creator, I would not be where I am today without having absorbed the lessons from people I disliked or even some people who treated me rather poorly.
Bad bosses, provided me the utility value in mindset and skills that allowed me to become independent of them later.
To this day I am grateful for every bad boss, every bad manager, and every bad client; the lessons were worth it in the end. They allowed me to do better and to not be leveraged by them or people like them later in life.
While hardship is regrettable, it is not always avoidable. You cannot and should not only learn from people that you like, or people that you agree with. Consider that you yourself have a value that wouldn’t be negated by someone’s dislike of you or preferences.
Being sheltered in that way will do you more harm than good.
It is important to understand that anyone can create value for you. Even the people that you dislike may have lessons you should learn. It’s not limited to “how not to become them”, even if that may be their most important lesson.