“If you haven’t found something strange during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.” (John Wheeler) – from a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
I might have put it a different way – “If you haven’t learned something new today, it hasn’t been much of a day.” The thought is pretty much the same. Hopefully each day brings opportunities to learn something new. Some days may, in fact, present stranger things than others to learn from; but all days likely have something new that we should take note of, if we pay attention. Paying attention is probably the key to learning anything. So much of our attention these days is diverted towards the device in the palm of our hand that we miss many things going on around us.
Much of want you can learn on any given day comes out of the interactions that you have with the people that you encounter. All of them walk into your life from a direction that is different from where you were looking and they all carry different information and different points of view. Haven’t you ever wondered how things look from their perspective? If you encounter people with backgrounds that vary greatly from yours, maybe an immigrant or a person from a different ethnic group, haven’t you ever been curious how much different their take is on things than yours? Did you ever ask? What did you learn from that? It’s OK to start from the position of “I don’t understand you”; however, it is wrong to jump from there to “and I don’t like you, or I’m afraid of you, because of that.” Why not try to use the experience to learn something about that person. You may be surprised by who they really are.
Other learning opportunities grow out of the adversity that may come your way on any given day – roadblocks to achieving a goal or unexpected disruptions or rifts in a relationship with a friend or loved one. Not only can you learn problem solving techniques from each incident, but you also learn something new about yourself and about the other parties involved (and adversities almost always involve other parties). Try to make each encounter with adversity a learning experience.
Stop and ask yourself if you understand the differing point of view of the person with whom you are having some difficulty. Understand that whether or not you feel that their point of view has merit; to them it is the perspective from which they are viewing the situation and the basis upon which they are making their decisions. Ask yourself if you
even considered that point of view? Now that you understand their perspective does it change your position at all? If not, why not? Obviously there are different ways of looking at the situation and no way to determine that your way of seeing it is the “right” way to see things. Maybe there is a compromise that you just have not yet considered. To overlook that possibility leads only to polarization and stalemate.
At the end of each day, take a moment to think back on the day and see if you can pick out the things that you learned during the day. That is a great way to actually make those learning experiences a part of your knowledge base and a step towards turning knowledge into wisdom. What did you see today? Who did you meet today? What did you learn today? What did you get out of today?