多听多看,活到老学到老 / Keep on Looking, Keep on Listening

多听多看,活到老学到老

我喜欢散步,一部分是为了强身健体,另一部分是因为——置身自然环境,比如森林或公园——可以观察到自然界的寒暑变化,让人赏心悦目。

上个周末,我在家门口最喜欢的小径上散步,试着寻找不同以往的风景线。我极目远眺,视线掠过树梢,望向山巅,希望能看到些什么。结果发现了一些有趣而新鲜的鸟类和蝴蝶,还在头顶上方看到一只黑黄相间的大蜘蛛,正高踞在巨网当中。假如我总像平常那样偷懒,只顾看些看惯的风景,肯定就会和这些景致擦肩而过了。

虽然这些风景本身很平淡无奇,但却昭示出一个道理:只要我们努力去看,往往就能发现被常人所忽略的新东西。努力倾听也是同样的道理。

这需要集中更多的精力投入,去超越常规视野搜寻新鲜而有趣的东西,但这绝对是值得的。

不时主动“极目远眺”是个好习惯,因为在纷繁杂沓的人生路上,人们很容易就习惯了按部就班,固步自封,包括对自己想看的和不想看的都有个既定的范围。

换言之,人们很容易陷入只注重身边明显的、熟悉的事物的怪圈。这样做其实很乏味。在我们身边,新鲜事物无处不在,我们却总是熟视无睹。究其原因,不是我们太过匆忙,就是满心只惦记着“大事”。其实,我们应该不时重新审视并定义一下我们生活中的“大事”。

我们对正规教育流程的最高期许是通过某种办法,让一个人即使在经历了心烦意乱、时间消耗和焦虑之后,仍能对学习抱有毕生的热情。

也就是说要唤醒一个人的好奇心,让他乐于钻研比入学考试、毕业论文、托福、SAT、GMAT更重要的问题。培养出不只是为拿名牌学校毕业证、找好工作而阅读、观察、倾听的人,这个人还要对自我完善及改变世界充满兴趣。

人们在结束正规教育以后很容易患上“学习疲劳”,求知欲逐渐被其他貌似更紧迫的事情所压倒:家庭、财务计划、出差、职业发展、健康问题、社会因素等。

我们不应把“上学疲劳”混同于“学习疲劳”,否则就会成为当前教育体系缺陷的牺牲品。

许多优秀的领导人和企业家都没读完大学,或者至少不是名校出身。然而,他们大都有个共性,即超出常人的好奇心,这让他们可以不断地观察和倾听,经年累月,天天如此。

和我们需要经常进行体育锻炼来保持体魄强健一样,为了保持思维健康,我们也要进行持续的脑力训炼。观察和倾听就是我们应该毕生认真培养和完善的技能。

Keep on Looking, Keep on Listening

I like walking, in part because it’s good exercise, and in part — in a natural setting like a forest or a park — it’s enjoyable to observe nature in its changing guises through the different seasons.

This past weekend, while walking on my favorite path near home, I tried looking beyond my usual, familiar line of sight. I made an effort to look higher up in the trees and further up the hillside, to see what I might see. As a result I saw some interesting new birds and butterflies, and a giant yellow and black spider overhead in the middle of its huge web, which I would have missed had I been lazily looking at the usual sights.

Although these sightings are in themselves of no significance, they illustrate the fact that when we make an extra effort to look, we often see something new, which has been overlooked by most other people. The same is true of extra effort spent on listening.

It takes concentration and a bit more energy to look outside our normal line of sight, to search beyond the familiar to seek something new and potentially interesting, but it’s very much worth the effort.

It’s a good discipline from time to time to intentionally “look beyond” the familiar, because given the hectic pace of life, it’s easy to settle into routines and habits, including the usual scope of what we look at, and what we tend to ignore.

It’s easy, in other words, to lapse into focusing only on things nearby, obvious, and familiar. That’s pretty dull and boring. We’re surrounded by interesting things which we can easily overlook because we’re in a hurry, or preoccupied with “important stuff”. It’s also good to regularly revisit the definition of “important stuff” in our lives.

The highest possible hope we can have for the formal education process is that somehow, despite the distractions, time wasted and anxieties endured, an individual with a passion for lifetime learning emerges.

In other words, a person whose curiosity has been awakened and attuned to questions far more important than those contained in entrance exams, final papers, TOEFL, SATs or GMATs. Someone who reads, who looks, and who listens, not just for the purpose of obtaining a trophy degree from a famous school for the purpose of getting a better job, but out of deep-seated interest in improving themselves and the world around them.

It is very easy to experience “schooling fatigue” after one’s formal education is finished, and settle into a path where intellectual curiosity is overtaken by other, seemingly more pressing priorities: family, financial planning, business travel, career developments, health issues, community causes, etc.

We should not confuse “schooling fatigue” with “learning fatigue”, or we risk becoming victims of the inadequacies of our education system.

Many outstanding leaders and entrepreneurs didn’t complete their university studies, or at least didn’t graduate from a famous brand school. However, many of these have something in common: an above-average degree of curiosity which drives them to keep on looking and listening, day in and day out.

Just as we need regular physical exercise to keep our bodies in good health, we need ongoing mental exercise to keep our minds in shape. Looking and listening are skills we need to mindfully cultivate and improve, on a lifelong basis.


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