We still have a few days until series four of Sherlock starts on New Year’s Day. But while we wait for the return of our dear crime sleuths, we can look back at our previous encounters with them and learn a few life lessons. Yes, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson have not just given us exciting crime stories to watch and enjoy, but they have taught us much more than just crime solving without us even realizing. Looking closely at the series reveals that there are life lessons we can learn from these characters, and indeed some very important ones!
1. Pay Attention to Details
What makes Sherlock Holmes so successful in solving his cases? He notices the things that we generally miss. There are many times when the solution is right in front of us. However, we are so absorbed in the world we live in that we tend to miss those clues that can lead to resolving the issue at hand. Developing Sherlock-level attention to detail may be challenging, but it would definitely be worthwhile.
2. Focus on What Really Matters
“Listen: [pointing to his head] This is my hard-drive, and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters! Do you see?”
This means that useless information in the brain is like having junk all around the room. It makes it difficult to store something important or to find what is needed. Sherlock suggests that peripheral distractions that clutter the mind can derail the focus from important things and goals. So say no to activities, people, issues, and meetings that distract you from the goals you have and pay more attention to what’s really important.
3. Don’t Have a Job or Are Unemployable? Just Create Your Own Job
Our consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, also shows us that being unemployed or unemployable is just fine, or perhaps more than fine. One can invent their own job and do what they are passionate about. If they give it their best shot, utilizing all of the strengths and skills they have, then lo and behold: the job is done!
4. One Good and Like-Minded Friend is All You Need
For many of us, the philosophy is “the more the merrier”. However, from Sherlock we can see that even one friend or a few trusted ones are enough. Sherlock is a solitary character with only Watson as a sounding board. Hence, he gives us this lesson that having a friend who understands you, gives you honest opinions, and guides you when you are going in the wrong direction is all you need. With this friend, you can share and discuss anything and everything, voice your thoughts or vent your frustrations. It is also not necessary that the two have similar personalities, as Sherlock and John are two very different people. However, they should be able to understand and value each other.
5. Never Let Failures and Criticism Drive Your Life
Facing failures and getting criticized by people are inevitable aspects of life. Many times people lose hope when they fail, or they feel dejected when they are criticized for their failures. However, all is not lost as long as one doesn’t lose hope in themselves. We can see that for Sherlock, too, success is not a luxury. Instead, he works it out by means of careful planning and utilization of his skills. During many cases that he takes there are ups and downs, and many times he faces failures. Similarly, despite all the fan-following that he has, he is criticized by people for a variety of things. The episode, “The Reichenbach Fall” illustrates how a person at such great heights of popularity suddenly becomes the “Fake Genius” in the eyes of the people. He is also called a psychopath at some instances. However, he doesn’t allow any setbacks or criticism to stop him from doing what he wants to do and being who he is. His attitude towards both failure and criticism teaches us how not to give these the authority to rule our lives.
6. There is Always More Than One Way to Approach a Problem
Sherlock Holmes makes use of many approaches to problem-solving. Sometimes he disguises himself, other times he searches for information and then makes a plan, and at other times he makes use of clever deception for drawing the players into the game. In case an approach fails, he does not end his pursuit of the solution, but looks for other options and approaches to take. Hence, we can learn from him that there is not just one way of approaching a problem. To be clear, I am not suggesting to take his indoor target practice as a lesson; there are many other approaches apart from that to learn from him.
7. Don’t Judge Anyone by Face or Appearance
How do we perceive someone we have met for the first time? We tend to judge that person, assign him or her to some sort of category, or come up with some explanation of what that person is or what he or she is likely to be. Sherlock shows us the extent to which one can be wrong when they judge anyone by face or by some of his or her initial actions. This we saw through his initial judgment of Moriarty as gay and how he was later revealed as a totally different person. Even though Moriarty was disguised that way and wanted Sherlock to believe him to be gay, Sherlock only judged him by his appearance and did not look beyond that when he first met him.
These were a few lessons that I learned from Sherlock. There are many others that you may deduce on your own if you pay attention. Fingers crossed for the new season that is set to bring some more life lessons and be just as entertaining as the previous ones!
Featured photo credit: Sherlock via pbs.org