One person, years ago, trying to impress the class they were teaching said something about the mind. The mind that stops learning is the mind that starts to die. Kinda felt grim hearing that. If that was a ploy to gain the student’s attention, it worked. The abrupt statement left an impression on several students.
There is truth behind this statement. The mind that is constantly learning is constantly putting down new neural pathways and keeping itself agile. The plasticity that comes from constant learning is what keeps the mind from aging. (aging too fast that is)
Neuroplasticity is actively being studied… what exactly prevents mental aging is still emerging. No medical advice being presented in this post in any way shape or form.
There is definitely one organ you don’t want wasting away from lack of use… and that’s the brain. OK, sure… nobody I know wants any part of their body to waste away… without the mind, the body is not as useful. Yet, by preserving the mind, the whole body has a much better chance of not being wasted.
The Mind That Learns…
The only way to get better at anything is to apply the lessons of being better. There is no other way to look at it. The more you know, the more options you have to use to solve problems and create new realities/solutions.
Some people lament about current appearance of the love affair with ignorant bliss. This the state in which people coast along without challenging the status quo, without discovering their limits, not bothering to challenge boundaries or step outside their comfort zones. Several hope that by ignoring a problem, it will go away on it’s own.
Just like the check engine light in a car won’t go away by itself, issues in a relationship won’t go away by ignoring it.
The contrast between coasters and those who are growth driven is equally interesting to observe. They do not like to sit hoping for the best. Not the achievers, not the movers and shakers. No, these folks love to learn. And they learn from anyone, everyone, and as often as possible.
One of the most marking experiences of my childhood, I was watching these mechanics working to solve a transmission problem. They were totally stumped for many hours. Something made sense to me. I voiced my opinion. Two of the guys there nearly lost their cool. They were super frustrated at the lack of solutions. They both showed me the door. My dad nearly hastened me out, as he too was frustrated.
The lead mechanic, the one who had the most experience in town, just rubbed his chin and grumbled that he hoped I was right. He asked me a few questions (I was barely eight at the time). I explained what to me was very obvious. Once done, he backed up and thought about it.
When the others asked him why he had stopped working, he simply said… “I think this kid just might be on to something and I’m about to learn from a baby”.
Everyone looked stunned. The lead mechanic told me that if I was right, I would have solved a massive headache for him. If I was wrong, I would have wasted his time, but he would have learned two things. First, I don’t know what I’m talking about and second, what not to do the next time he ran into this particular problem.
It took a bit of effort and a lot of head scratching. Turns out I was right. The problem was solved and they admitted I had saved them several thousands of dollars in parts and two more days worth of work. The younger mechanics now had a zillion and one questions to know how I figured this out.
What was it I knew?
Back then, I was very curious. I tried to look at things from as many perspectives as was available to me. I had just read a book the prior week on submarines. One of the diagrams had explained a piece of technology the German U-boats had that allowed them to perform certain maneuvers a lot of other submarines could not at the time.
That diagram looked like the parts the mechanics were working on. The only way for the linkages to work and the gears to engage, a certain valve had to open a certain way. The valve incorporated a set of switches neatly hidden from sight. Everyone in the shop thought the “valve” was an actual “stop” to prevent the system from operating outside the normal context.
What they didn’t realize, the valve had to be activated to allow a special maneuver. No one but the lead mechanic believed me. Once they fixed the valve, the mechanism activated when it needed to, and the gears could move in a way they typically didn’t… allowing the car to do what the driver wanted… which was to reverse. Most cars of the era didn’t have that valve. This one did.
I wouldn’t have made that connection if I wasn’t an avid learner at that age. The cost would have labeled the car as totaled. But once the valve was made to move, the price of the replacement was less than one hundred dollars.
This lesson has stayed with me a long time. Whenever obstacles come, there usually is an answer that’s hidden in the act of learning. The more one learns, the more one has tools to address situations.
Usually, on Mondays, the topic of goals is touched. Learning is the only way to get better at the journey of life. The mind that identifies a goal is not the same mind that will find the solution to reach the goal. The difference between the two minds? What one learned over time.
To borrow a Jim Rohn quote:
“Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins” – Jim Rohn
What will you need to learn this week to solve whatever obstacle is in your way? What will you need to learn about the process of learning to get your solution?
Those afraid to learn will not find the solutions they’re waiting for. Those who embrace learning will find all manners of keys to unlock more doors than their imagination could have dreamed of.
The more you know, the more you realize you need to know, but the more you appreciate what you do know and use it more wisely.
Let’s keep our brains sharp. Keep working it out by learning. Nothing sharpens a lesson learned like applying that lesson to day to day life. Keep applying and keep learning while applying.
Feel free to share anything you plan to learn this week.
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