An Uber driver gave me a wonderful lesson in African history, Ethiopian antiquities, and the history of emigration the other day…after he tested me to see if I was just being polite or if I really wanted to know. I got out of this car with three study assignments and a tinge of sadness for never learning about his homeland before. He ignited my heart as all good teachers do.
Experiences like this are reminders of the unmined treasure and talent all around us.
I could have just stared at the back of his head. So glad I didn’t.
How is it that I think I know anything
When I am so much younger than a rock
And will vanish as quickly as the grass?
How is it that I ever consider myself an expert
When I am not even as old as a sea turtle
Or some humble, unnoticed tree?
Who do I think I am
Besides one who happened upon an ancient world
Maybe I should be sitting in awe
Or begging for knowledge
Or listening to truth in the wind
Or asking for wisdom from strangers
Rather than dishing unsolicited opinions
At every opportunity
Who do I think I am anyway?
“In reality, humility means nothing other than complete honesty about yourself.”
– William Countryman
I have read two books recently that I should have read years ago. That’s sad. They would have really helped me.
But the reason I didn’t read them is even more pathetic; I was jealous of the authors. I had convinced myself that one author was too young to be insightful and the other was not profound, just lucky.
Too often I have stymied my own growth by hanging on to a prejudice and refusing to learn from a perceived competitor.
So, I will now be suspicious of these behaviors:
1) Writing someone off before I give them a freakin’ chance
2) Protecting my own ego by condemning someone else’s
And…I will call it what it is: Plain and simple jealousy, driven by insecurity and immaturity.
Education expert, Sir Ken Robinson speaks about our natural state where learning occurs automatically. While listening to his funny and entertaining TED Talk, I was reminded to make creative, curious, and unique the barometer that measures the “rightness” and effectiveness of my state…but not just while learning.
It is true that if I have to shut off these things when I learn, I do not learn.
It is also true that if I have to shut off these things to work, I may be doing the wrong work, or, if I have to shut off these things in a relationship, it may be an unhealthy relationship.
The you inside is worth so much more than a perfunctory conformity to norms.
I was listening to a Ted.com lecture when I heard my email notification beep. So, I checked my email and Facebook messages while continuing to listen and realized I was, consequently, being much more productive with my time. I thought, if I continue to do this, I could like say…I had been attending Social Network University (SNU) instead of just browsing, thereby minimizing the guilt I have about spending so much time putting around on-line. lol
And, gee, Ted.com is free and allows me to set my curriculum by choosing from thousands of stimulating twenty-minute lectures on just about any topic, delivered by really interesting speakers. Sign me up!
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi
Do you have a reflective New Year’s Eve tradition?
What worked this year? What didn’t? What goals did I achieve?
What do I want to improve?
What are my goals for the next year?
What were this year’s top 10 experiences?
If you had a hard year and can’t think of ten, count ten mornings you woke up in a warm bed, if you are homeless, count your toes. If you have no feet, count your fingers. If you have no hands, count the next ten sounds you hear, if you are deaf, count ten things you can see, if you are blind, count your next ten breaths.
Moments of gratitude are the fertile seeds of hope. Plant yours today. Next year is counting on you.
9 out of the 10 things that I have maligned, discredited or written off as so stupid were victims of my ignorance.
1) Classic poetry (Who would write such boring stuff? Or could it be that I was too immature or light-weight to get it?)
2) The conditioner and body lotion in the hotel room (The hotel was so cheap the stuff didn’t even work. Or, maybe I used the lotion for conditioner and the conditioner for lotion. Duh.)
3) Dispensers that are difficult to use (They were not manufactured with the consumer in mind! Or, maybe I didn’t follow the instructions.)
4) Old people (They are so clueless! Or, maybe, they’ve been there done that.)
Next year I resolve to take my lack of omniscience into consideration before passing judgement.
I don’t know anyone who likes a hard sell, a manipulative sell or the insincere flight attendant voice. Guileless, agenda-less, real; we are all after that. How nice it is to be with people who are not thinking about stuff, but, instead, are completely present with us.
At the age of fourteen, I met a 16-year-old girl who awakened my hunger for a life like that. She asked me questions and really listened to the answers. She showed me there had to be more to life than what was coming up next. But it has taken a lifetime for me to really get it.
My kids tried to teach me earlier, but I was too busy trying to teach them.
I used to be a lot more picky about who I listened to or learned from. Thanks to the influence of some insightful friends who challenged me, I now am open to learn from everyone.
I may not buy-in to everything they say, but something they have learned will also be useful to me.
I came about this selective listening honestly. I was afraid of being led astray, down the slippery slope, off the narrow path, etc…so I only read books or listened to audios from people who were in my philosophical camp. Boy, was I missing out!
Those people who were too liberal, too conservative, too intellectual, too simplistic, too old-fashioned, too modern, too whatever…have some dang good things to say!
Fear strangles truth.
Several years ago, Bill Belz, with much effort, taught me, a total non-athlete, to play tennis. Besides adding 10 years to my life (probably), the game has taught me many life lessons:
Don’t think about who might be looking at you. Concentrate on loving the game. Keep your eye on the ball. Play one point at a time. Forget about the last point. Don’t stress about winning, only about being the best in this moment. Let go of the self-hatred for mistakes.
Until recently, many times I sabotaged my game by feeling guilty about playing instead of helping someone, etc. Now, I know that this play has been and is a very important part of my life.
I hope you will play today…in whatever you do!