There is a particular topic I have been working with for many years now. I’ve had a great deal of time, practice, and experience, and I think I have developed some knowledge along the way.
I know I am not the only one with knowledge and experience on this topic. However, because of the length of time I have been working with this, my age, and some other factors, my experience has become less relevant to the current leadership.
This gets frustrating. I feel like no matter what I say my knowledge bears far less relevance than once it did.
So what do I do? Keep talking and get frustrated because of how people are reacting and not reacting to me? Or keep quiet, keep watching and listening?
That’s a judgment call that only I can make. But over the years I have found that there is a great deal of value in just watching and listening.
You learn a lot from watching and listening in silence
When there is a topic on hand which I have some knowledge in — I tend to have opinions. While I have spent a great deal of my life as a jack-of-all-trades, I have within those a couple of specialties.
I know a little about a lot, but I also know a lot about a little. For example, I have dabbled in photography, carpentry, drawing, painting, archery, and weightlifting. I know a little about each of these topics — but acknowledge that I am by no stretch of the imagination a subject matter expert on any of them. These are just a few of the many things I know a little about.
Then there are the topics I know a lot about. Writing, fencing, and cooking, for example. I have been practicing all of these for decades and am continuing to improve my knowledge. I know a lot about these topics — but I also acknowledge that I am not a subject matter expert on any of them.
Or more specifically, while I have a level of expertise I am still learning.
When I was younger, I believed in the notion of mastery on a given topic. As I have gotten older and studied various things, I’ve come to see that those with true mastery still consider themselves students.
Why? Because there is always more to be learned — even on a thing where you know a lot already.
Learning is evolving
Take fencing, for example. Twenty-eight years ago, when I started fencing in the medieval reenactment society, it looked VERY different. The primary weapons we used were different, how we studied and taught fencing was not how we study and teach it now.
That is not a bad thing. The weapons have evolved, our practice with more medieval styles and techniques has evolved and continues to do so.
When it comes to writing I am always learning new things. New words occur and get used for any number of reasons. How you craft your words changes (like one space instead of two spaces after a period in typing). The more you write the more you gain insight on multiple levels and become a better written communicator.
And cooking? So many foods, so many recipes, so many options. I love to learn new techniques, styles, spices, and I know that as good a cook as I am — the amount I can and do learn is mindboggling.
Even these places where I claim to know a lot I can still learn and know more. As much as open discussion and sharing the knowledge I have can be useful to both myself and others, watching and listening can have quite the payoff.
Let go of ego
One of the pitfalls about both knowing a little about a lot and a lot about a little is that you develop some egotism with knowledge. That’s perfectly normal and human of you. Unless you take it too far and become egotistical.
This can take two distinct forms — both negative. Intentional and unintentional.
The unintentional egotist tends to be borne of lack. Mostly a lack of self-confidence, self-assurance, self-worth, and so on. You compensate for that feeling of lack and present an egotistical side to the world as a defense-mechanism.
Usually, when you find that you are doing this you will take action to cease to do it. That was me twenty years ago.
The intentional egotist is also borne of lack. They, too, have an issue with self-confidence, self-assurance, self-worth, and so on. But they use egotism to place themselves above other people. It’s still compensation for the feeling of lack, but they intentionally present themselves as a subject-matter expert and tell you how they are a “stable genius,” for example.
I recognize that my frustration — in regards to the particular topic I started out discussing today — is borne of my ego. Since nobody but I can feel how I feel I need to let go of my ego in this regard.
Watch, listen, and learn. Easier said than done — but still worthwhile.
Watching and listening can be empowering
I write the things I do to share what I have been learning. It is my desire to help you in your evolution and to work with any changes you seek to make in your life.
Self-help is about the self. But there are many resources and ideas to choose from. No one answer is right, true, and perfect.
As much as I share my experience, ideas, knowledge, and so-on — I gain more from watching and learning. Everyone has something they can teach you. Some of those lessons are taught unwittingly — but they are just as valid.
Watching and learning opens me to possibility and potential I can’t find when I am sharing, teaching, inspiring, speaking, or typing out ideas. Even if I claim mastery and expertise on a topic, I am still the student.
I believe that a true master — of anything — knows that they are still a student.
Sometimes it’s in your best interest not to speak, but just to observe. What have you learned from watching and listening?
You are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, as do the things we learn by watching and listening.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on May 20, 2020.