The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian Philosopher
Lifelong learning is a key to success, because it’s about the development of human potential. Lifelong learning encompasses the complete range of human experience.
Learning is cumulative. It accelerates; it brings change; it pays. Learning is earning. It civilizes and empowers. It not only teaches but also stimulates. It often is informal.
Keeping an open mind and embracing lifelong learning are stepping-stones to excellence. So learn from every person and experience. You’ll discover that instead of being frustrated over differences, you’ll be enriched and enlightened by them. As you learn, you keep on growing. And as you keep on growing and learning, you embrace excellence in your life.
When Nido Qubein, my friend and co-author of the book, ‘Life Balance the Sufi Way’, moved to America at the age of 17, he didn’t know much English.
He taught himself the language by learning the spelling and meaning of 10 words daily. He wrote them on 3-by-5-inch cards. He learned 10 new words every day and reviewed the 10 from the previous day. He did this five days a week and learned the language in one year.
Mastering English is a monumental job. But Nido knew how to cover a mile an inch at a time. He learned the language 10 words a day, five days a week. By the end of the year, Nido had learned 3,120 words. The typical American has about a 5,000-word vocabulary, so one might say that he was still disadvantaged. But he went on to write several dozen books, more than 100 audiocassette programs, and several hundred videos. They have been translated into 19 languages and sold in more than 70 countries around the world.
Emma Watson, the well-known British actress and star of the Harry Potter movies, didn’t allow her success as an actor get in the way of her education. While continuing to act, she also attended both Brown and Oxford University to achieve her Bachelor’s in English Literature, making her an official Ivy League graduate. An inspiration to all young women her age, she is now also serving as an ambassador for Camfed International, a movement to educate girls in rural Africa, and has been appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador to promote gender equality.
The modern household today is awash in data pouring in from the internet, print, radio and television. But raw data don’t lead to Life Balance. They make up only the first rung of a ladder that leads to wisdom. That ladder looks something like this:
Data means raw data, which may be worthless. Information is the basic news or facts. Knowledge is the application of the information that creates some kind of coherence. Understanding is something you have paid the price to master, either through reading, experience, or mentorship. Insight is the rare understanding that very few people have acquired. You receive this insight through exceptional clarity, intuition, gift, or blessing. Wisdom is acquired through coherent understanding and application of insight. Excellent people gravitate toward insight and wisdom.
If all you have is information, people will use you. If what you have is knowledge, people will need you. If what you can offer is wisdom, people will respect you. Wisdom leads to impact, which is what counts.
Learning encompasses much more than taking in information. It includes the whole area of character, open-mindedness, and universal encompassment. Open-mindedness comes from showing respect toward others and from the humility that acknowledges that you don’t know everything.