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You can learn something from anyone

A lot of people seem to admit to the fact that you can learn something from anyone. But in reality, they don’t behave accordingly. It is nice to admit to this fact, but do you also realize what it really means and what it takes to be able to learn from anyone? It seems that a lot of people don’t know this.

To be able to learn something from anyone or anything means that you first have to be open to alternative information and possibilities. You can’t pretend that you already know everything about a subject or situation. You can’t simply brush off opinions or information coming from someone without making sure that you’ve carefully looked at it. You will have to open yourself up to all of the information coming towards you, look at it and carefully evaluate it against anything you think you know about the subject.

And this is not an easy thing to do because often it can take a lot of time. And apart from time and willingness to be open to the information, there are other difficulties as well. One of them is objectivity. It is not easy to be objective when you consider alternative information. And this can be because of various reasons. One of them is that looking at alternative information could mean that you can come to the conclusion that the information is correct, and that what you knew is wrong and that you will have to admit to this. And people don’t like to admit that they are wrong. If it was in a discussion or argument, it would mean losing the discussion or argument. And people don’t like this. There is ofcourse nothing wrong with not liking it, but you should not take the wrong decision because of that, namely lying and refusing to admit that you are wrong. I’ll write more on this in the future.

Another reason is that people may have certain prejudice towards something or someone. For example, they may hear someone who is considered to be a bad person, or someone they just don’t like, talk about something and without giving it some more thought, just automatically dismiss everything that person may have to say. Which ofcourse is a foolish thing to do, because that person, even if it is just for once, might be saying something good. Or they may think that the person giving their opinion on something can’t possibly be taken seriously because he has no experience, is too young, doesn’t have a degree in the subject, etc. In such a case, a teacher would never be able to learn from his students, and one could say that Hitler never did anything that we might positively learn from. Anyone has good and bad qualities, and anyone can be right or wrong. Nobody is perfect. The skill is the ability to be able to honestly identify the good things in a person, learn from those things and use them to your advantage.

Another reason can also be that when people would have to admit that alternative information is correct, this means that they would have to accept it, which could have an impact on a lot of other things that may affect their worldview and their lives. The implications can be so outrageous compared to what they are used to, or it can cause so many inconveniences, that their mind simply closes up to the possibilities the alternative information suggests, and as a result they can’t objectively evaluate it. In such a case it is much more convenient to just dismiss the information, pretend it doesn’t exist or simply deny that it is correct.

And there can be many other reasons still. I think that one of the most important things you can learn to do in life, is to be able to objectively evaluate an opinion, or information in general and once you’ve reached a conclusion, honestly act upon it. I don’t think I can ever completely describe the huge benefits that this gives you. Once you are able to do this, you can identify and take the good things around you from anything and anyone, learn from them and use them to your advantage (this includes finding out that you were wrong), while you eliminate or improve the bad things. It only makes you a better, smarter and stronger person.

For example, there may be someone you really don’t like. Perhaps you even hate that person. To be able to objectively evaluate something this person says that is contrary to your beliefs, and to be able to honestly admit that he or she is right, and that you were wrong is very powerful. Simply because not everyone can do this, and when you can, this gives you a powerful advantage. You will be able to learn much more much quicker compared to everyone else, because, while they can’t, you are able to consider any and all sources and identify the good things and use them to your advantage. And because you are open to alternative information and possibilities from anywhere, you are more likely to discover where you are wrong, and are more likely to act upon it which in turn helps to improve yourself much quicker and much more than anyone else. And the beautiful thing about this is that this benefits not only you, but everyone else around you.

Just think about.


  1. Karel Donk » Archive » Dealing with being Wrong (29/04/2007)
  2. Karel Donk’s Blog » Blog Archive » New Year, Same Approach (01/01/2010)


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