Sunday, July 10, 2016

Be willing to learn

Never quit learning - Be willing to learn

My mother-in-law has a couple of factors that present technological challenges for her. First, as an emigrant from South Korea, she does not speak much English. Second, as a senior citizen, she does not have the same technical fluency with computers, smart phones, and the like as my teenage old daughter does.

When her classic cell phone, a flip phone, stopped working, I suggested that she take my iPhone 4S. Although I like to think of myself as a generous son-in-law, my motivation was partly self-serving. By giving my phone to her, I could upgrade to a newer model.

My mother-in-law accepted the iPhone, but assured my wife and I that she only wanted to learn how to use it for phone calls and, she added, maybe to use Face Time, the built-in feature for video chatting, to speak with my wife. However, the next morning she told my wife that she wanted to download some apps to watch news from Korea.

Over the next few weeks my mother-in-law learned how to type on the phone's small on-screen keyboard (in Korean, by the way) and to even send emoticons to my wife when texting.
It is never to late to learn something new. The saying “You can't teach an old dog new tricks” is not really true, literally for animals or figuratively for people.

I once knew an elderly gentleman, Robert, who loved to learn. Robert started working on his doctorate of philosophy in history when he was 81 years old. Working through the curriculum over a few years, he graduated at the age of 85!

My great uncle Alban was also curious about new technologies. Long before the Internet existed as it does today, with a variety of online options for e-mail, he used a box that connected to his television to send e-mails to family members. He was in his eighties at the time.

Did Robert and Alban wait until they were octogenarians to adopt an attitude of continually learning? Of course not. An attitude of learning should be developed early in life. At whatever age you are now, you can choose to be willing to learn. What can you do today to adopt this attitude?

First, whenever you come across something that you are unfamiliar with, take the time to learn about it, whether that means finding a solution to a problem or increasing your knowledge. If you are reading and encounter a word you don't know, look it up or write it down to look up later. Even if you don't remember the definition later, taking this learning action will help you; it will strengthen your mental powers. Likewise, if someone mentions facts during a presentation, meeting, or sermon, ask for the reference and verify the source yourself.

Second, look for opportunities to learn. Books, webinars, classes, online articles, and so on are more available than ever. Many resources are free.

Third, be open to alternative points of view. We have a tendency to evaluate quickly when listening to others present their opinions. Take the time to understand where others are coming from. While others are speaking, try to refrain from already crafting a response. By taking the time to listen to others, you may learn something about them or the situation you are discussing.

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