Sherlock Holmes is the most famous fictional detective ever. Everyone has heard of him whether you are a fan of the original stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or you like a more modern version such as Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, or Johnny Lee Miller. There have been scores of books and short stories written featuring the famous detective or inspired by him (see Goodreads Pastiches). I admit that I am a huge fan: reading and rereading the original stories over the years, always giving a story inspired by the work a second look, and watching the movies and television series. So why are we so drawn to Sherlock Holmes 130 years after he was first introduced? Upon reflection, I have decided there are five life lessons we can learn from Sherlock Holmes.
This is the most important life skill and one we all need to remember. Pay attention to the details. Details matter whether we are simply trying to evaluate the words of another or we need to make a personal decision. Too often we don’t take the time to study a person or situation as fully as we should. We collect a few details and jump to a conclusion. We rush to judgment and all too often that leads to mistakes. If we all took more time to collect the details and if we all paid more attention to those details the world would be a much better place.
Humans are essentially lazy. We like to take shortcuts. But Sherlock Holmes reminds us that it is important to gather all the information before we make a decision or form a theory. Not only do we need to pay attention to details, but we need to ask questions and work to gather as much information as possible before we move to act on our knowledge. Too often we assume that we rely on superficial information or our past experience. We allow our prejudice and preconceived ideas to drive our actions rather than coming fresh to each situation.
Don’t Go It Alone
Although it often appears that Sherlock Holmes is a solitary brilliant detective, in truth, he is surrounded by a team, or community, to support him in his endeavors. Of course, the key member of that support team is Dr. Watson who serves as friend, sounding board, foil, and dogsbody as well as providing invaluable expertise from time to time. However, there are others who provide support and challenge in a variety of ways as both allies and enemies (and sometimes both). It is important to remember that even someone as self-sufficient as Sherlock Holmes cannot survive alone. He relies on others to survive and succeed.
One of the fascinating things about Sherlock Holmes is that he is a multidisciplinary expert. He has so many different and varied skills to draw from, but he also willing to draw in a variety of experts to supplement his own skillset. He knows when to ask for help and information from other experts. Holmes’ creative approaches to thinking and problem solving always amaze and surprise Dr. Watson and the audience, but we can all learn from this idea. We would all be much more successful in life if we used our imagination to consider multiple approaches to life’s problems. Not every approach will lead to a successful outcome – but we only need one that works.
Be All In
Sherlock Holmes never does anything by half measures. It is one of the traits that drives those around him insane because he will dive into a project and focus to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. While this does not make him a good friend or tenant, it does make him supremely successful at what he does. This is a quality that children possess, but somehow, on the path to adulthood we train this trait out of ourselves. Think about what you could achieve in life, at home, and at work if you truly threw yourself into something.
Sherlock Holmes, in his various incarnations, is not always someone we should emulate, certain of his life choices are questionable to be sure, but there are many lessons we can learn from him. If we were more attentive to details, did not rush to judgment, asked for and accepted help, fostered creativity, and went all in then we would all be more successful in life.Tags: #Books, #Heroes, #Stories, #Storytelling