I am constantly amazed at the things I can learn from others. If I open my mind and ears, while keeping my mouth shut, there is a wealth of knowledge out there. Even if it is not new knowledge to me, the perspective of others might as well make it a completely new topic.
The really hard part is the “keeping my mouth shut part”. Once you get a handle on that, the fun part of learning from others can really begin! There are a lot of people in the world that will not share their true opinions if you challenge them with your counter-opinions before they have had a chance to commit to their own.
This is probably not news worth blogging over but it is a realization I guess it has taken me until my upper 40’s to figure out. It is probably the kind of realization that hits us all at some “level of maturity”, so I guess this is just my time. It’s kind of like the day you realize your parents actually knew what they were talking about, and were not the enemy after all. Hopefully (unlike me) you will figure that out before they are dead and you have a chance to tell them.
Learning from others is not just an ability to “learn from your elders” however. I am finding that although a wide range of ages is great, it is not the only way to get a fresh view. I have a great friend that is 93 years old. He is one of the sharpest minds I know. He is an inspiration, and I am truly lucky to know him. To think of the vast pool of experience he draws from when talking about anything from music to Nettle tea is pretty impressive. His views have the weight and wisdom that can only come from the time it has taken him to collect everything up to this point.
Just as impressive, but in an entirely different way, are the opinions of some of the teenagers that are around where I work. I don’t go out of my way often enough to listen to those young opinions. They don’t benefit from the great experience of age, or have any of the moderating “shutters of reality” that we all grow over time to keep them quite as grounded. On the other hand, they are not quite as willing to give up on an idea just because it has been tried before (indeed they may not even know that it HAS been tried before) and failed, or they may not even care. They are the ones that are going to make the rules for the future, so it is worth listening to them now.
I am going to try to work more on the shutting up and listening thing for a while.