There is a very high penalty to be paid for believing that you are smart. If you believe that you know enough—even in a single domain—then you don’t easily recognize the massive gaps in your knowledge. And there are massive gaps in your knowledge.
If there is nothing left for you to learn, then you have cut yourself off from the possibility of growth. Growth necessarily requires “new;” new information, new ideas, new actions, new possibilities, and new results.
If there aren’t things that you know and believe that aren’t open to being changed with new information, then there is no way to progress, to improve. One of the best ways to stagnate as a person is to refuse to consider new information. This is especially true when you reject information that conflicts with what you believe you know.
If you are the smartest person in the room, if you can learn nothing from others, in addition to being a bore, you will also miss out on ideas that are worth your time and exploration. That doesn’t make you the smartest person in the room.
What you want to be is dumb, and continually getting less dumb. You want to be curious and open to new and challenging ideas.
Human knowledge is growing at an incredible pace. In some disciplines, it is doubling every couple years. There is no way one can keep up; the staggering pace is leaving all of us behind. You do, however, have to run the race.
Knowing that you know very little, and accepting that what you do know is a very tiny sliver of what is known—even in your domain—creates the possibility of new learning. Recognizing that you know almost nothing about most everything opens up a world of possibilities for acquiring new information, new ideas, and new breakthroughs.
Whenever you learn something new, you become less dumb. Whenever you open yourself up to new information that conflicts with what you know, you grow, and by doing so, you grow stronger.
When you allow other people to be smart and share what they know, they are transferring their knowledge to you. That’s smart, and therefore, you are less dumb.
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Filed under: Learning