You may remember, back in your school days, there being an exam and a feeling of trepidation: you were unprepared.
You hand the studied, didn’t know the material, and hadn’t even thought up a cheating strategy to scrape by with.
In other words, you were f*cked.
But, every now and then, there was an oasis in the middle of the desert: this test would be of the open-book variety.
The heavens had parted for you.
With the book open, all the answers were right there in front of you. Easy A. This might as well not even be a test!!
I don’t know how those ended up working for you, but this I do know: all of life is an open-book test.
Think about it. Any information you need, there is no restriction on what you can reference, who you can ask, and how you can come upon solutions. The whole world’s book is wide open to you.
Which means, everything you do should be the real-life version of an “easy A,” right?
You probably know, now that you’re thinking about it: the open-book test of life isn’t as easy as the concept made it sound back in 10th grade. So let’s talk about how you can pass this open-book test called life.
1) Which book to open? School open-book tests usually made this easy: there was only one text to choose from, and you were limited to sourcing information only from that one book.
Life makes it harder by giving you more choices.
Forbes says somewhere between 600,000-1,000,000 books get published every year. And you don’t have enough time or enough eyeballs to read them all.
You need to know where to look for information. Merely knowing that you need it isn’t enough.
If you ask enough people the same question, you could end up confused by the sheer volume of different answers— and you still have to pick one to follow.
My suggestion: choose your mentors and stick to them. Shiny object syndrome is real when it comes to information. Help yourself by limiting your sources.
2) Which page to turn to? 100-page books have 100 different pieces of information. Tests in school have time limits, just as your life does: Even once you’ve decided on an information source, you have to know how to locate the necessary info.
If you’re dealing with a person, you need to ask the right question(s).
Google? The right search query holds the key to uncovering what you’re looking for.
If you’re a creator, do you start a YouTube channel, podcast, blog, plan a live event…?
It’s the paradox of choice. We often want as many options as possible — and it’s the exact cause of our indecision.
3) How to interpret what you find? In the seventh grade, I found myself unprepared for a (closed-book) math test. During the test, I asked a classmate — quietly, of course — how to answer a certain question. He told me the key was to use the quadratic formula.
I’m sure I failed that day’s test.
There’s a lot of information out there — what does it all mean? How do you know how or even if you should use certain info and resources? How does its use apply to you and your specific situation?
In the intellectual property business, experts will often tell you what to do for free — then they sell you on how to do it.
Their information is free (your time and attention notwithstanding). What you’re paying for is the interpretation and proper application of the information.
And it’s worth the price. If you don’t know how to drive stick, having a manual-shift car isn’t worth much to you.
4) How to know you’ve found the right info? In business, as in basketball, you’ll find a lot of people with widely varying opinions on how to achieve the same outcomes.
Making money. Dribbling the ball. Driving website traffic. How to jump higher and dunk.
Often, there are multiple right answers.
For some topics, ask ten people the same question and you’ll get ten different answers.
How will you discern what’s right from what’s wrong? Or, which one you should follow?
Well, you’ll have to use your best judgement, aided by solid counsel from the right people. Make wise choices as to whom to ask, how much to value what they share, and how to measure whether their info is working for you or not.
5) How to implement the information? I know someone who signed up for G-Suite to get the unlimited Google Drive storage space that comes with the paid plan. Less than 24 hours after signing up, they cancelled their account: G-Suite was too confusing for them to figure out.
As mentioned in #3, having info is not the goal: you have to do something with it.
Let’s say my classmate from that seventh grade test day had actually provided me with the quadratic formula. I still would’ve gotten the question wrong. I didn’t know how to use the quadratic formula.
A process is only as good as your ability to use it.
There are lots of questions to answer when life tests you. The answers aren’t always handed to you.
As you can see, having the world’s book open to you doesn’t guarantee success. And it damn sure isn’t easy.
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Be sure to check the following MasterClasses on this topic —
#1518: How To Pass Life’s Open Book Test
#1359: The Fruits Or The Labor?
#1358: Deciding How You Will See Yourself
#175: You Are The YOU Expert
#174: The Car, Gas & Steering Wheel Of Success
#1299: Stop Trying To Be “Liked” By Everyone
#1298: How To Be A Solutions-Oriented Person
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