But how do you do that?
Well, turning a few pages back you find Proverbs 2. There the writer lays out what is foundational to finding the knowledge of God and finding your way in life - in a word, "understanding".
Together the words "understanding" and "understand" are used 6 times in the first 11 verses.
- applying your heart to understanding
- cry aloud for understanding
- understand the fear of the Lord
- from the mouth of the LORD come knowledge and understanding
- then you will understand what is right and just and fair
- understanding will guard you
You don't have to believe in God to see the value and validity of this principle. The Bible says that seeking understanding is foundational to obtaining the knowledge of God. But seeking understanding is also foundational for living in a world where you simply don't know everything. And none of us knows everything. We are finite beings and yet there is an infinity beyond ourselves.
We will meet and interact with hundreds even thousands of people in our lifetimes in professional and social circles. There are "school subjects" by the semester-load like mathematics, chemistry, economics, history and art. There are political ideologies on a continuum spanning the extreme left and the fundamental right.
How do we engage with these people? What is our attitude toward learning? How open are we to ideas that may differ from those we are born with or have been taught?
With understanding. With an open mind. With a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.
This is the first blog in a 7-part series that explores the nature of success.
Lao Tzu opined that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The journey of success begins with understanding.
If there's anything we all can agree on it's that we each want to make a difference. We want to make the world a better place.
But "those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything". George Bernard Shaw's words are true if we do not have an attitude open to understanding. They are true if we do not have a mindset that seeks understanding.
Our attitude is our emotional stance toward the world. Our mindset is our mental stance as we face the world.
My dad used to tell me as a teenager that I needed an attitude change. My kids' other grandfather likes to say he needs to go into the woods "to get his mind right".
Let's do both. Let's change our attitude AND get our minds right so we are open to understanding other people, new subjects and different ideas. Then we'll be growing and learning, and that's the recipe for success.
This wouldn't be a blog about numbers without some connection to math or counting. The practical takeaway is to write out what you learn. Make a list of what you have come to understand. Number them in a journal. You might even write up your personal Top Ten Life Lessons.
Once you establish the habit of numbering your lessons learned, success will come ... like clockwork.
Next post in this series will address what you can actually do to gain understanding. Let's just say I will attempt to explain. You'll be surprised. The plan is to post every Tuesday.
Mark B. Anderson
Tutor & Founder, Strength in Numbers Tutoring