You’ve no doubt heard of the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but it’s who you know.” And while I agree with that sentiment, I also believe that it’s only half-correct.

That is because success isn’t solely about what you know or solely about who you know. Ultimately, it is about what you know and who you know.

I addressed the first part of this last month in Animal Health News and Views with an article titled, “Building Relationships in the Workplace and Networking in the Job Market.” That, of course, is related to who you know.

With this article, I am going to address the importance of what you know. This knowledge is not rooted in a formal education, mind you, but from everyone you meet, including within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. Whether we realize it or not, each person we meet—whether a colleague, client, or stranger—carries with them a unique narrative that holds the potential to enrich our understanding, broaden our perspectives, and deepen our empathy.

At the heart of the belief that everyone has a story to tell lies a recognition of the diversity of human experience. Each person we encounter has traversed their own unique path, weathered their own storms, and triumphed over their own challenges. Whether it be the colleague sitting beside us in the office, the stranger we pass on the street, or the acquaintance we meet at a social gathering, every individual brings with them a perspective that is shaped by their upbringing, culture, values, and life experiences.

Growing Both Personally and Professionally

While the power of learning from everyone we meet holds significance in all facets of life, its implications for our professional development are particularly profound. In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world, success in any career field requires not only technical expertise, but also adaptability, empathy, and a willingness to learn from others. By embracing the philosophy that everyone has something to teach, we open ourselves to a world of opportunities for growth, innovation, and collaboration.

In the realm of business, for example, the most successful leaders are those who recognize the value of diverse perspectives and experiences. By fostering a culture of open communication and mutual respect, they create environments where employees feel empowered to share their ideas, challenge the status quo, and contribute to the collective success of the organization. In doing so, they not only harness the full potential of their team but they also position themselves as visionary leaders capable of navigating the complexities of today’s global marketplace.

Harnessing the Power of Mentoring and Networking

One of the most powerful ways in which we can leverage the knowledge and experiences of others is through mentoring and networking. Whether we are just starting out in our careers or looking to advance to the next level, seeking guidance and advice from those who have walked the path before us can be very valuable. By surrounding ourselves with mentors, advisors, and peers who embody the values of lifelong learning and personal growth, we gain access to their wealth of knowledge and expertise and we also cultivate relationships that can support us on our journey towards success.

Consider, for instance, an aspiring entrepreneur who seeks out a seasoned business leader as a mentor. Through regular meetings, candid conversations, and shared experiences, she not only learns the ins and outs of running a successful business, but she also gains valuable insights into leadership, resilience, and strategic thinking. By leveraging her mentor’s wisdom and guidance, she is able to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of entrepreneurship with confidence and clarity.

The Ripple Effect of ‘Paying It Forward’

Perhaps the most profound aspect of the power of learning from everyone we meet is its ripple effect on the world around us. Just as a pebble thrown into a pond creates concentric waves that radiate outward, so does the knowledge and wisdom gained from our interactions with others have the power to shape the lives of those around us. Whether it be through a kind word of encouragement, a nugget of advice, or a shared experience, the lessons we learn from others have the potential to inspire, uplift, and empower those we encounter on our journey through life.

As another example, consider the tenured veterinarian who mentors a new graduate just starting in the profession. Through their interactions, she not only imparts valuable skills and knowledge, but she also instills in her mentee a sense of confidence, resilience, and ambition. As the young professional grows and develops in her career, she “pays forward” the lessons she has learned to others, creating a ripple effect of learning and growth that extends far beyond their initial encounter.

Ultimately, the power of realizing that you can learn something from everyone you meet can have a transforming effect, enriching both our personal lives and professional careers in profound ways. So, remember: it’s not only what you know that ultimately makes you successful, and it’s not solely who you know, either.

The key to success, in both your Animal Health or Veterinary career and your life in general, is both what you know and who you know . . . and realizing that you can learn something new from everyone you meet.