Self Learning your path to progress, change and success

How do you learn? And what do you with the information you learn? It is worth some serious contemplation because you learning and experiences pretty much shape you present and future.

I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine. ~ Bertrand Russell

When I was a kid, my go to person for all my questions was my oldest brother. Being a voracious reader he somehow had an answer for almost any questions that my mundane and lazy mind sought. Due to his high IQ and knowledge base, he was naturally considered to be the most intelligent in the family. So, even the most simplest of questions were often taken to him, rather than employ my own thinking. In his generous ways he often would guide me through and patiently answer to all my annoying questions. But as I got older he would encourage me to seek out my own answers from the very well stocked bookshelves at home. Yet, asking him a question would save me the time to sift through the several volumes of encyclopedia and other books. Hence he was in many ways my know all, be all and end all. And thankfully for me his wisdom has always been very sound and accurate because often with his answers he also poses a question to invoke and employ my own thinking.

But as one grows older and begins to lean and explore, we begin to form our own opinions and develop values, beliefs and ideas about things in life. Our natural thinking minds begins to explore and seek for several answers. But how we go about getting these answers and the source of these bits and pieces of information has a greater impact on us than we can comprehend. Often we rely on certain set sources for information. News channel, subject matter experts, printed materials, or easily accessible wisdom from friends, relatives or immediate contacts who are ready to impart with what they know. More often many of us really on easier and faster information sources that will save us the time to self learn and analyze. But how reliable and unbiased are these information sources truly are?

Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. ~John F. Kennedy

We know that several sources of wisdom and knowledge can be very biased or controlled in many ways. We also live in a world today that pretty much controls and influences our behaviours by means of complex algorithms behind several information and social medias we use. Studies and several examples prove to us that even subject matter experts have consistently been wrong. Doctors misdiagnose, economists err on their predictions, and political decisions have been severely damaging, religious interpretations have been often misleading to put it modestly. We are constantly bombarded with new studies and research that prove that our old beliefs and practices were wrong and newer systems are introduced to follow. Weather it is weight loss, economic conditions, health benefits, relationships, social norms etc. Our opinions and beliefs are constantly challenged and our thinking invoked to develop a more educated and balanced point of view about several matters in life as we progress.

We live in a world of several systems that are designed to follow and obey. Some f them are forced upon us in certain ways and some are inherited by us and we are expected to conform as our predecessors did. Political systems, law and constitution, religion, Educational systems, social behaviours, cultural norms, management principles, economic systems are some of the things that we are often expected to follow without questioning. In some ways these systems are designed to make conformist of our inquisitive and thinking minds. Our opinions and thought processes are highly influenced by such systems and social pressures, not to mention some punitive consequences for not conforming to these principles.

But today our opinions and beliefs are constantly judged, questioned or challenged in every aspect of our lives. The consequences of our mind sets and opinions translate into our behaviours that directly impact our every social interaction. Hence by our core nature of caution and protection we are bound to evaluate the opinions and behaviour patterns of the company we chose to keep.  And living in our currently world were we have the wealth of wisdom in the form of our mobile browsers, we are expected to behave like intelligent thinkers who old a balanced and well educated set of opinions. The excuse for ignorance and stupidity are long gone.

Irons rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. ~Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks, 1508

From the baby boomers, to the generation X’ers to the Y’s and now the millennialists (those born in the 2000’s) we are fast evolving into sophisticated species of “Autodidacts”. Autodidacts are the self learners who quench their hungry and inquisitive minds by self learning and finding answers to their questions themselves. The current breed of generation Y’s and the  millennialists are a much evolved and sophisticated intelligent thinkers. Everything you say and express are instantaneously verified or argued by accessing their mobile browsers. Your opinions are challenged with facts, your character is judged by your behaviours and your wisdom is questioned by your source. If and when you are wrong, or found to hold on to incorrect and regressive or biased opinions, you are soon dismissed and disregarded.

After all, many of these autodidacts are the ones who have truly influenced and changed our world as we know today. Many of them if not all dropped out of school and formal education and chose to self learn and form educated opinions which later on inspired them to do great things in life that helped push this world towards progressive events and thinking. Some of these popular autodidacts from an extensive list are:

Abraham Lincoln

Gorge Washington

Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Edison

Henry Ford

Ezra Cornell

Frank Lloyd Wright

Bill Gates

Steve Jobs

Mark Zuckerberg

Steve Wozniak

And some say that Albert Einstein also dropped out of school and was an autodidact to a great extent, but he later went back to school at a later age to complete his formal education. But these self learning people have influenced some of the major changes of our world. They were the non conformists who had the courage to stand up against the odds and challenges and do things differently. Most importantly they were the ones who didn’t rely on borrowed opinions, but instead chose to form their own opinions by self learning and intelligent thinking.

Just some 30 years ago in the early 80’s the coolest gadget was the Sony Walkman, the Berlin wall was still up, the Cold War was still on, IBM introduced the worlds first PC, Apple’s Macintosh wasn’t introduced yet. And today in just 30 years we live in a totally different world. And some of these greatest changes we experience today were contributed by some of these above mentioned Self Learners who dropped out of formal education. What this only goes to prove is that with a rapidly growing generation of self lerners today, we are bound to face a lot different world in the next 30 years. What we teach to the young ones today may not be relevant in the next 30 years. And many of us live past 60 years. That’s at least 2 cycles of drastic changes. The world of 50’s and the world of 80’s were totally differnt, just like the world of 80’s and the world in 2013. I cannot begin to imagine the world in 2313.

Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting. ~Edmund Burke

In the corporate world the old management principles are rapidly failing to attract and retain the intelligent thinkers of today. The new breed of workforce are seeking jobs that use their intelligent thinking abilities. They are asked if they are out of the box thinkers, problem solvers and if they have analytical minds in their interviews, and later they are asked to follow orders, adhere to some mundane process, and conform to a typical set of behaviours. They dislike these mundane systems and refuse to conform to such processes. They argue that: if a company employs a series of processes and implements a typical behaviour pattern that even monkeys can follow, then perhaps they need to employ monkeys for those jobs. They do not need the analyst, the thinkers, problem solvers or the intelligent workforce they interview.

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No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. ~Voltaire

Likewise several other systems are losing followership. Several age old institutors are dying due to lack of progress or evolution to adapt the intelligent minds. The world of paradigm shifts now have produced a high level of intelligent thinkers who not only question why? But they are smart enough to develop new solutions and ask “why not”. Religion, political objectives, economic solutions and education programs are some of the most prominent systems that are being challenged by these thinkers of today. Today’s intelligent thinkers do not want leaders or anyone telling them what to think and offering advice. Instead they are courageous individuals who like to lead and do something great themselves. They do not want the preachers, teachers the managers or the wisdom givers. They themselves are the idea generators, the thinkers, and the information they need sits in their pockets and a few thumb strokes away. They are aggressively progressive and they do not have the time for those who withhold knowledge as means of exercising power over those who seek it. The intelligent thinkers have that knowledge. They are busy trying to build on it further. Now you have to think fast on which end of the spectrum do you want to be.

And in this world, it is imperative that your opinions are based on balanced and educated thinking and not on hearsay, or blindly conforming to borrowed wisdom. Your opinions are reflected in your behaviour that affects the society and everyone that you interact with. Others know this and judge you by these. Hence, being better educated and well read will not only help you make better choices in life, but it will aid your thinking and behaviour that will assist you shape a better and successful life. Today “wisdom” in instantaneous and only a few thumb strokes away. Be an autodidact, change your world, challenge the status quo and make a difference. Do it for yourself, do it for your society, do it for your the world.  Stop asking questions and depending on other peoples opinions and wisdom, but rather venture out to self learn, read, think and form educated, unbiased and intelligent opinions. For such thinking are the ones that have shaped our world and push us forward in our lives. Others who conform to other peoples wisdom and ideologies continue to face the same battles, challenges and fall victim to the same circumstances.

There have never been great followers, but only great thinkers have enabled change and progress, and you are fully capable of being one of them.

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. ~Albert Einstein

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