Culture | Learning | Personal Growth | Philosophy

An Open Mind and a Closed Mouth

“Many fail to grasp what they have seen, and cannot judge what they have learned, although they tell themselves they know.” – Heraclitus

If I’ve learned anything in my time on this planet it’s that I don’t know much of anything about most things. But I know a lot about a few things. Very few things, really. The rest is just general knowledge mixed with opinion and occasional bluffing. But even here, I’ve learned to just say what I know and don’t know. The truth shall set you free.

Knowing what you don’t know, you learn to recognize what other people don’t know. No matter what they say. And sometimes specifically because of what and how they say it. If we are the average of the five people we hang around with the most, do we really want to be a mix of ill-informed opinion and gossip? I should think not.

Too many are quick to weigh in with advice and commentary on things they’re clearly not experts in. Knowing something well generally means being able to explain it in terms a child might understand. Given this, it seems that most people are bluffing. For all the information readily available in the world, most people just take something they heard at face value and parrot it back at you like it’s gospel.

Learning begins with first seek to understand. That requires a healthy dose of humility and knowing what you don’t know. When you approach the world with an open mind and a closed mouth you can learn all kinds of things. Like what kind of person you want to become. That seems to be a good starting point.

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One Comment

  1. One of my often-used sayings is, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I use this in response to an innovative project timeline inquiry, especially when you don’t know all the obstacles and problems – until you encounter them. This happens a lot in my endeavors! But that process of discovery- whether of the new problem, or of the solution, is where the fun is!

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