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Best 5 tips for learning through observation

Observing and understanding the world around you is an absolute essential for success in today's life. Whether the person is a student, a housewife, a manager in an office, or entrepreneur, or an unemployed graduate, there is so much to learn from others, through and by observation. Five important ground rules are sought to be explained in this article.


Learning through observation is an art. It is based on a huge amount of common sense. However, tact, shrewdness and a gift of the gab are absolute essentials too, if anyone wants to succeed in this respect. Five basic ground rules in this connection are a) Be totally unbiased b) look at the situation as it is c) Understand at all dimensions of the situation d) Always ask for advise and e) Take up one thing at a time.

Be totally unbiased

As human beings, it is natural that we are conditioned by a huge number of past experiences. We hence carry our own biases, prejudices and assumptions about people, or situations, or even about some small dimension of the situation. For example, if there is a lady boss, many assume that she will be a big dictator. This is a huge mental block and a bias. Or, when they see two young people engaged in some friendly chat in a restaurant and the boy is a prospective bridegroom, the bias takes a trun for the worse. After all, the girl could be a distant cousin. When we allow any bias in any particular situation, we are bound to be the loser. We will not be able to succeed at all.

Look at the situation as it is

This follows from the first ground rule. For example, the "berth" accommodation is very common in Mumbai. When someone comes new to the city, they are stumped when they see this situation. The mind immediately starts wandering and in the next twelve months, every effort is made to relocate to another city in a different job.

This is the worst that could happen to any person. Those who are bachelors, in particular, have to undergo the initial teething problems of living there. Once they get used to it, the city is a paradise by itself. It is the most modern city of India, with an unbelievable range of opportunities in every field. There are weekend specialized courses, run by the University of Mumbai itself. There are highly specialized and job oriented courses that take one to different careers in interior design, bakery, fashion design, music, and what have you. Those who slog it out in the initial stages, will always succeed. What is required is a small amount of patience to learn the city in its totality. For instance, food is not such a big problem. Even those who work in the huge Corporate organizations, can be seen eating food made available through small mobile shops. The food is normally prepared fresh and served hot. It is much cheaper than what is available in the formal hotels, even the Udipi hotels.

There are opportunities galore in Mumbai. It is possible to find some job. One should take up any job and then go ahead. One cannot be choosy in the initial stages of one's career.

So, one has to learn to look at the situation as it is. Not what he or she wants it to be.

Understand all dimensions of a situation

Every single situation can be turned to become an entrepreneur, utilize one's skills better, learn a new language, interact with those who are knowledgeable and so on. Once this is understood, the situation itself becomes a huge advantage to the individual.

Smart housewives in many locations of Chennai, have signed up with an online agency to supply different types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. The rule is simple. Do a little extra of whatever you do at home. For example, if there is a bindi fry already being made at home, the order comes exactly at 8.30AM in the morning, through a message on the cell phone, to prepare enough for five more persons. So, the housewife is able to understand what needs to be done. The collection of the cooked food is done by the agency and faithfully delivered in houses and in various offices. Since this food is much more tasty than the hotel food, it has a huge number of takers, increasing day after day. Shrewd housewives are using the IT expertise of their own children to understand all such entrepreneurship opportunities. Each housewife makes a minimum of Rs.15,000 through their own efforts, without leaving the comforts of their home. Buying vegetables afresh is no big deal either. The kirana shops are situated so near their houses.

This is exactly what is meant by understanding all dimensions of any situation. Once this is done, all other things fall into place.

For those who want to change jobs, the ground rule applies too. The changed situation in modern times would mean a compulsory shift from the age-old skills. For example, those with a pure accounting and finance background find far better job opportunities only in Capital Markets and Merchant Banking and in IT applications related to core banking. These are highly specialized jobs where the expertise is learned over a period of five years. Those who have understood this dimension of the situation as it obtains in the industry, are always those who milk such opportunities.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Always ask for advice

This is an important ground rule. In any situation, there are so many others who are more knowledgeable, so talented and so good at multi-tasking. It requires a huge amount of humility to go after them and seek their advise.

In fact, the above 60 age group of people, who have had significant success in their careers, are the best people who can offer good advice. Once they share their experiences, it is possible to read between the lines and understand how much of hard work has gone into their lives. It is also possible to note that they had endured the worst of times with patience, tact and integrity. These lessons can be extremely useful in shaping our behavior, our response to many challenges of life. These observations, as it were, can help us make a huge difference.

Even spending a couple of days with them in their office would be a superb experience. They would offer us sound advice and we can also learn how they tackle practical situations.

Seeking advise should however be restricted to well wishers and the achievers. It should be totally confidential and should not be shared with everyone. This advise can be very useful if properly understood. We can often find shades of such rich experience having a huge amount of practical application to our own situation. In cost cutting, in learning a new skill, in better understanding of our life partner, in shaping careers of our children, in maintaining good relationship with our neighbors, in acquiring good friends and so on. Once this becomes very clear, we can see all the positives and gain so much through such observation.

Take up one thing at a time

A housewife who was serving customers through the online agency, waited for a full thirty six months before venturing out on her own. Her husband, a banker, identified huge potential for the same business, if she relocated to another locality in Western Chennai. He did exactly this. Even if he had to travel the extra 45 minutes to reach his office, he saw the potential and helped her launch her own business. She is now a very successful as an entrepreneur as she supplies the lunch box with hot food to sixty customers in the nearby banks and private sector offices. At night, she serves dinner at her house to twenty five regular customers. She reportedly makes over Rs.30,000 per month. She has two assistants too, who are given some small salary and free food three times a day. The assistants are housewives belonging to nearby poor families and living in small houses.

This success was possible as the lady had the patience to take one thing at a time and go through the learning curve for a full three years. Nothing happens in a jiffy. We always need to take one thing at a time and complete such tasks.


The real world is our laboratory for learning every small thing. The case studies, from which we can observe too many things are always available. Each situation is different. The realities of each situation are different. Yet, when we observe the realities, through informed observation and shrewd tactics, we can always go ahead in life.


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