Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are you a good student?

Sonny asked me that once - it was a trick question of course.
On the one hand, you need to be respectful and polite, follow instructions and take the teacher's lead, take on board criticism and suggestion, listen carefully and modify your actions at their behest ...... On the other hand, everything you hear or learn should be taken with a pinch of salt, tried, tested, examined, thought about critically, investigated and played with. It's worth remembering that everything that is not personally experienced is hearsay.
For it to be your personal 'truth' you need to own it. You need to understand the context, the reasoning, be able to see it's worth and it's limitations .... and physically be able to manifest what you are talking about to complete strangers.
You have to be an active participant in your growth, willing to try things, but not get attached to their validity. You have to be open minded, attentive, work hard and think critically .. and laterally too.
You should also be able to adapt and change the information to mesh with who YOU are, and be able to expand who you are to test the edges of your possibility.
And perhaps most importantly, you have to be willing to fail and put yourself in positions where that is a distinct possibility, it is where some of the best learning comes from. I guess this is where it becomes important to have good 'others', in that I mean teachers, opponents, training partners etc to be authentic bad guys ... or honorable enemies. Your skill set will only improve in any meaningful way if the stimuli that you get to play against is authentic, challenging and as varied as possible.
We all seek guides in the subjects that we choose to study, but they are there to open our eyes, perhaps point the way, but not to carry us up the mountain. - Perhaps it would be best for us always to think of our teachers as honorable enemies? Someone for whom we have great respect as to their skills, but who we eventually need to learn how to beat. I know for sure that Sonny kept his personal 'secret weapons' in his back pocket, he refused to show his draw for instance, saying "I'm not going to show you my underwear", so on some level he was teaching us to not trust anyone completely. A worthy lesson in itself.
In the end, as Sonny said: "I am not teaching you, I am showing you what I do. It is then up to you to take it and make it yours". He could have added ... 'So that you can get good enough to defeat me'


Anonymous said...

One of my Masters said, "embrace failure." I always thought he meant 'be willing to lose' in order to expand your own ability to perceive 360. But, reading this post, I think he was saying, embrace the feeling of failure as part of the learning process. To do this one must find a center place, an anchor, a place to 'stand' of emotional objectivity that allows one to complete the action/mission. The trick is to save a time and place for emotional expression (reduces the problem of "engram[ization]" (L. Ron Hubbard) and integration (usable power, not power that uses you).

Josh Kruschke said...



Maija said...

@Mac - I think they are both true, the feeling and the actual.
Actually losing gives you real concrete things as problems to solve, The feeling and what you do with it creates character.
Someone once defined success as 'The ability to fail at greater and greater things' - I thought that was really funny.

Josh Kruschke said...

Failure is a marker and shows you where you need to improve. With out failure we become stagnant and unchainging. Failure is only 'failure' your if allow it to define you and limit you. The only people that have neve failed at anything have never done anything.

Failure is really just an learning opportunity with some really bad PR.