Empty cup, open mind

After the death of Chairman Mao, Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping led his country towards market economy reforms. He understood that it will take significantly longer if they were to figure out the ropes themselves. So he reached out to the World Bank for help to educate his countrymen on how the Western world have been managing their economies. 

This helped kickstart the amazing growth China have been experiencing for the past few decades. He famously described the transformation as crossing a river while feeling the stones. He not only understood that they needed help, he also realised those frameworks and insights from others will need to be tweaked and modified to work for their unique situation.

Far too often, we don't ask for help when we are venturing into the unknown. Even if it is something that has been done countless times, by many others before, we tend to prefer to go through the motion ourselves. 

This is puzzling especially when help is around the corner and easily available. Why don't we learn from others to save time and get a head start? It allows us to benefit from mistakes made by others in the past. 

Maybe because we feel our situation is unique and it calls for a different solution. Maybe we think we have to deal with things the hard way for us to learn from it. Or maybe it's just our own ego getting in the way of us learning from others. 

It tends to be a bigger problem when you have prior knowledge of the subject. Our previous learnings seem to get in the way of us absorbing new concepts and ideas. The more we know, the less we are able to accept new teachings.

As the saying goes, you must first empty your cup before you can truly understand. Too often, we let our knowledge and experiences get in the way of learning something new. And when we learn from others, it doesn't mean the story ends there. We aren't required to apply what was taught to us as it is. We ultimately decide whatever we learned is of use or not.

We owe it to ourselves to be more open minded and ask for help whenever we can. Absorb all the learnings available and then adapt to it to our needs. There is no shame for us to stand on shoulders of giants especially when it's offered to us.