Throughout my life, I’ve invoked for myself the figure of speech, Jill of all trades, master of none.
And although I lay no claim to expertise in any narrow trade, I had thought that expression fit me better than Renaissance Woman, who likely never existed. Besides, the man of the times not only had a wide range of intellectual interests in the arts and sciences but was also adept in one or more areas. Can’t say I am, really.
So, it was fascinating to find this online:
Definition of Renaissance woman: a woman who is interested in and knows a lot about many things.Miriam-Webster
What I can say without reservation about myself is that I am driven by curiosity and wonder. When recently asked what app I couldn’t live without, I instantly said: a search engine. I use one (mostly DuckDuckGo) countless times a day as I search for answers to my endless inquisitive questions, both commonplace and exceptional.
Learning is the third prompt in The Eight Days of New Year BALANCE Experience I am participating in.
I am constantly learning. I’ve been known to say, when I stop learning, I’ll start dying.
I’m gratified to have what’s called a lifelong learner’s mindset. I have enough years of useful education behind me that taught me critical thinking skills, skills that I value more than knowledge alone.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”Socrates
What have I learned?
I know I’d stop learning were I to enter a query or dialog with a set point of view, or with an aim to convince, or with a need to be right. Instead, I start with an open mind that is ready to be shown wrong.
I’ll have to admit that this was hard-earned wisdom; I was more self-righteous as a hard-headed youngster when I thought I surely knew better than others. Today I’ll engage in a passionate debate on a topic with anyone who invites me and I will state my case clearly; yet I’ll be open to listening―the first step in learning―to hear whether I need to change my position. Knowing the difference between a fact and an opinion is useful.
And still, I don’t waver when it comes to my fundamental principles of fairness, truth, integrity, and kindness. My lifelong tenet has been:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
One life lesson is that I’ve learned more from my mistakes and misfortunes over the decades than from my successes. (Although I don’t look to make mistakes and do celebrate the successes!)
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.Neil deGrasse Tyson
It’s true for me, also learned in my later years, that being of service to others (whether in my relationships, business or philanthropic work) lessens my own troubles. It takes the focus off me and puts it on those with other, maybe greater, needs.
What do I need to learn?
One important thing I must still learn is to manage better my curiosity.
My curiosity and care extend to almost every major issue of the day—climate crisis and regenerative solutions, social/economic justice, gender inequalities, politics and the destruction of democracy, technological advancements, trauma-informed and other therapies, self-care and compassion, business/nonprofit development (oh, the list is too long!)—and all this on top of my regular work interests.
Every day I spot thought-provoking news headlines and deep-dive articles, podcasts, webinars, panel discussion. My thirst for knowledge can truly overwhelm me!
I seriously have to improve my ability to set limits to how deep I go with each of these issues. Information overload is not serving me.
Not every kind of knowledge is good. One must confine one’s curiosity to a single direction.Abhaidev (That Thing About You)
To my credit, it’s been almost half a century since I watched television and or given my precious time to other mindless entertainment. I’d rather spend half an hour watching the sun set. Or sit still to listen to a beautiful song or piece of music. Or read wonderful literature or fascinating non-fiction. And, of course, spend fun and meaningful time with near and dear ones.
So now to identify the other unimportant or non-critical distractions I can eliminate from my days. That would be a good learning.
In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.Eric Hoffer
Your turn. What comes up for you when you think of the word learning?