I want to get better at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I want to get better at cooking. I want to get better at singing. The list goes on. In fact, it is much easier to put these together and say I want to be a better person; this will cover all of them.
I like learning new things, rediscovering and deepening what I already know. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy things like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and philosophy, because there is no final point where I can stand and say “I have mastered it all”. There is always room for improvement, as long as you are ready to be a learner. It sounds a bit cliche, but on this point, I feel as though I am on a life long journey and it gives me great challenges that make my life much more exciting.
I have a question for you. If you wanted to get better at something, what would you do?
I found a good reminder, which gives us an answer to the question above, in a bookstore. When I went to a bookstore few days ago, I picked up a certain (Japanese) book and started flicking pages. I am quite interested in the subject matter of this book. Something caught my attention. It was a piece of advice given to a male beginner in this subject matter. The advice goes like this:
If a man wants to get better at it, he must consider every woman as his teacher.
You might think the book I picked up was about relationships. I am certainly interested in that area as well, but it was something different. It was a book on Argentinian Tango. The background of this advice is the following: the authors of this book often notice some of their male students act as if they are always right and thus hardly listen to their female partners.
What I like about this advice is that it can be generalized and applied to various things. If you want to get better at something, you must consider everyone else involved in that thing as your teacher. How about the mighty ‘it covers all’ card? Easy. If you want to be a better person, you must consider everyone as your teacher. Perhaps you can add ‘everything’ as well. Everyone and everything.
It is fascinating if you can learn from everyone and everything. With this attitude, you get to have more learning opportunities. It is even better if you can appreciate others for being your teacher. They might set good examples or bad examples. No matter what examples they set, there is always something you can learn from. This is easier said than done, but it helps to keep this in mind and we can start small.