Empty cup, open mind

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.

Thoughts about learning

Note: This article was originally written on Medium. If you don't know what is Medium, read this piece

Every time I hear someone says “Learning is a lifelong process”, I think to myself, isn't that obvious? Then I realized it depends on what you define as learning.

To many, learning happens when you go to school, college, university or anywhere you are taught. The common route is that you spend 2 decades of your life learning from these institutions and if you do well, you graduate and earn a piece of paper that proves it.

Learning is NOT what you do at a particular place

The first problem with this model is as if learning can only happen at a certain venue. So what happens when you leave those places? Do you stop learning?

Of course, the environment is important to encourage learning but you can learn anywhere at anytime. The environment only affects how well you learn, not whether you learn or not.

Learning is NOT being taught

I don’t believe that in order to learn something, you have to be taught. A teacher can teach very well but that doesn't mean the students are learning.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear - Buddhist Proverb

You can learn from anyone, from anything, at anytime and in anyway you like.The decision to learn does not rely on the availability of someone or something to teach you. It is simply whether or not you want to learn.

Learning is NOT a means to an end

You learn to gain understanding and knowledge. And with these new insights, you can then use it to learn things that are more advanced.

Everything that you have learned serves as a foundation for future learning. That’s why we go from primary school to high school then to college, university and beyond. The goal of learning is to be able to learn more.

Learning is a choice

It is your choice to learn from the experience you went through or from the mistakes you did. The opportunity to learn is always there. It is up to you to choose if you want to take up the challenge or ignore it.

With the Internet, you can learn about anything at your own pace. You even get to decide on your own syllabus. Get on Khan Academy to learn about differential equations or how to code in Ruby at Codecademy. Learning is an option available to everyone.

Learning is living

To live is to learn. We begin our lives by first learning how to breathe on our own. Then we learn to walk, to read, to count, to love and to stand up after a fall.

Learning is so entwined with our lives that it is part of being alive. To stop learning is like saying you want to stop breathing.Learning can happen anywhere as long as you allow it. You can learn from anyone or anything and everything you learn leads you to a path of more learning.

Learning isn't just a lifelong process. It is the process of life itself. Life becomes far more meaningful and fulfilling when you never stop learning.

Thirst for knowledge

Do you have the urge to find out more about something new you learned about? The curiosity to know how and why things work. The drive to learn more about the world which we all once possess as kids. With power of Google and the vast amount of information found on Wikipedia, it's never been easier to satisfy your thirst for knowledge. You can even learn stuff they teach in school online through the Khan Academy.

As I've said before, everyone needs googling skills and there's no excuse to not learn something new everyday. The web is the best teacher you'll ever have since you can control the pace and the topic of your study.

The best way to secure your future is to invest in increasing your own personal value. Turn your thirst for knowledge into your motivation for a brighter tomorrow.