While reading this week I came upon a chapter in my book entitled "Become a Student." Pretty straightforward, right? I mean we've all heard that it's important to be a student and to cultivate knowledge for the entirety of our lives. This chapter though, was different. Different in the amount of detail and I loved it as I believe, at least in one part of my life, I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and I am the consummate student. Where are you currently a "pupil" of sorts and where might you have yet to embody the mind of student?
The book, "Ego is Your Enemy" by Ryan Holiday suggests that the student, teacher relationship can be complex because "We don't like thinking that someone is better than us. Or that we have a lot left to learn." The problem is that none of us "knows it all" and take a peek any of my initial "stabs" at home-improvement and I'm quite sure you'll be nodding your head in agreement! But it's that exact line of thinking, believing we might "know it all" in any space, that holds us back from seeking and obtaining the additional knowledge that in the end, could set us free. Free of the mind, free of relationships issues, free of financial woes, work hassles...you name it.
The book goes on to say that "False ideas about yourself destroy you." and the only way to circumvent that is to always stay a student and have the self-respect to occasionally put yourself beneath someone you trust, key word, trust. This begins with the acceptance that others know more than you in some areas, as is true for you in others. You then realize that you can benefit from their knowledge so you tell your pride to take a back seat and you seek that person out so you can begin to knock down the illusions of yourself that at the present time...are getting you nowhere.
All human beings from all walks of life, no matter age or stature can benefit from remaining a student. Thinking that you have "arrived" and no longer require knowledge is one of the biggest lies you can impose upon yourself. A great student is open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, of being, understanding and yes, even a bit of criticism so they can move on and up to the next challenge.
Epicteteus said "It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows." You cannot or will not learn if you think you already know. On a personal note I have people whom I hire as well as admire that I look to for advice. I believe I typically do this with an open mind or I wouldn't have taken the time to seek out their thoughts. Many times what they've said poses quite a challenge to me...every time I have been better off for doing or even considering what they've said.
I also know, on the flip side, that others have come to me for knowledge and when sought out by a prospective student, I strive to treat them with nothing less than the utmost respect as I know what it feels like to be on the other end of things. Vulnerable.
The ego, the book goes on, avoids feedback and reaching out to others to ask for their input at all costs, however you have to decide whether it's a life of mediocrity you wish to live or something more divine. It's like visiting a friend in mourning or holding someone’s hand as they cry, it's not comfortable but in the end is it the right thing to do? Yes, yes and yes.
There is nothing "less than" for seeking out new knowledge. The "less than" is the delusion that you really believe that the story is written, the i's are dotted, the t's are crossed and there's "nothing new to learn here"...because, oh yea, you already know.