Do you hold so tightly to your opinions without really thinking about if you truly believe them or not? Could you be more productive and creative if your mind were more open to listening to others rather than stubbornly holding onto your old ideas? Having a firm opinion that you hold loosely paves the way for new learning and opportunities for personal growth.
THINK FOR YOURSELF!
Many people find their confidence in their strong opinions that govern their life. These opinions or philosophies of life are often only grounded upon tradition and not a person’s unique, real-life experience. In other words, many people simply don’t think for themselves and only live by the words of others.
Robert Frost described this best in his poem, “Mending Wall.” The central character finds strength in the words of his father instead of utilizing rational thought when he blindly states, “good fences make good neighbors.” This poem is about the need for modern man to question antiquated thought.
CAN YOU TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS?
What would happen if all people adopted a philosophy that said, “I believe X but am open to others who might teach me a better way?” Would we be a better or worse society? Is it possible that this attitude could make us better listeners, perhaps more creative and productive?
I think the answer lies in two principles of thought: 1) I am open to learning from others. 2) I find confidence in the pursuit of truth.
KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN
When you are truly open to learning from others, you become an active listener. It is listening, not debating, that demonstrates your intelligence. Great thinkers are first great listeners. You cannot expand your mind or your influence in society without first growing as a person through listening.
CULTIVATE A HABIT OF LISTENING
Not only is listening polite, it brings about an opportunity to find truth. Great listeners ask questions to clarify and explore. Great listeners look for validation of the information they give or receive. Those truly seeking wisdom set aside their biases to pursue truth through listening. The result of active listening is a new-found confidence in one’s beliefs.
BEING TEACHABLE PAYS DIVIDENDS
Listening allows one to discover new thoughts or to find data to validate existing positions. Whether you change or remain firm in your position is irrelevant. What is relevant is that listening and seeking truth builds confidence in your position. Whether this position is regarding faith, politics, processes or ideas, the person of wisdom seeks knowledge aggressively through engaged listening. It is the listener who holds his own status quo on any position loosely enough to be changed by realized truth. Rigidity of thought stifles personal growth. Being teachable is perhaps one of the most important qualities you can possess.
The truth made simple is this: You are rarely learning anything while talking and you can’t hear truth while screaming.