A Student Mindset

“When we are closed to ideas, what we hear is criticism. When we are open to criticism, what we get is advice.”   Simon Sinek

‘With age comes wisdom.’ We are all familiar with this often-repeated adage. Is this true? And how might this belief affect us in daily living – at any age – senior citizen or the younger generations?

One particular challenge those of us who are identified with the senior sector encounter is the assumption by others that by the virtue of being older, we possess a certain amount of wisdom. While I believe the members of the older generation should be wiser, the expectation is not always reality.

‘Age does not guarantee wisdom.’ I know my grandchildren, who read my blog, will remind me of this statement in future conversations. (Children and grandchildren are known for using our own stuff against us)!

Because older people have been around a long time, they have had opportunities to absorb a lot of information. And, in today’s world, the amount of information is virtually unlimited.  A simple click to Google or any other search engine for any subject teaches us that we can learn more, regardless of age or station in life.

Younger members of society can definitely learn from older people. And yes, older people can learn from younger people. Each of us has a valuable portion of the puzzle that can unlock the keys to living successfully.

I love to teach! Having journeyed through many decades, I have benefited from the tools of knowledge and experience, immensely helpful qualities in being a good teacher.  Yet, as much as I love being a teacher, I am passionate about being a student. This student attitude – teachable spirit – is a great success principle for anyone. At any age. At any time.

Be a student for life.

Openness is the key tool in the utilization of the student success principle.  When you are open to being taught by others, you immediately gain the advantage of multiple counselors. I am reminded of the Chinese proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  Be mindful that not everyone we encounter can enable us in our quest for wisdom.  It is possible that only one advisor out of five can contribute to the vital knowledge we seek.

However, there is that one person who will make a difference. Do you want to miss out on the one piece of advice that may change your whole life? One message of wisdom, a single golden nugget of advice, could propel you forward on the path to great success. This has happened so many times throughout my life that I could indeed write a book just about these experiences. At pivotal points someone said something that I heard for the first time – a pearl of prudence that I immediately embraced and made it a part of who I am. The first step in hearing something of great value is first being open to hearing it. Without a student mentality, I would have missed many valuable lessons at every stage of life. How about you?

Even if we agree that there are immeasurable life principles in maintaining a teachable mindset, such guidance can, at times, be difficult to receive. Do any of the following statements mirror moments in your life? Do you recognize other family members or friends?

‘I have been doing this a long time. As an expert, I do not need to be taught by others. I am the teacher.’

‘I have a degree in this subject matter. No one can tell me something I do not already know.’

 ‘As the person in charge, I should know all the answers.’

‘I have a college degree. I am expected to have the knowledge.’ 

‘With age comes wisdom. Since I am older than you, I should be wiser.’  

‘I am not going to listen to a young person. They do not have the experience that I have.’

‘I am not going to listen to older people; after all, they are set in their ways.’

When we heed the wisdom of others – regardless of their age, education, experience or position, we choose a path toward success. Any goal we might achieve in life, any success we will eventually enjoy, will be made possible through the assistance of others. It is a fundamental law of success. And that assistance will come to us through a variety of messengers . . . if we allow it.

Success always involves others.

Are you open to learning from others?

Today . . .

I am a student.