Open Future NZ "Be the change you want to see in the World"
Mahatma Gandhi
The Thickest Walls by John S Veitch
printOne Printable Pageprint

Learning is usually like osmosis.  If we are associating with other people on a daily basis, we absorb their mannerisms and ideas and style of speech.  We become more like them, as we confirm our membership of that group.  

It's not by accident that we can easily become the main barrier to our own success.  We are programmed by our parents to be like them.  Being true to that model, we try to be "like me" in the choices we make, as we live our lives.  According to this model, no change is "good".  We build a fortress for ourselves, in which we hide to remain true to ourselves.  I am proud to be "who I am" even if that is destroying me.  

The world we live in is changing rapidly.  The main secret to success is the ability to understand that change and to adapt to it.  Modern people need to be adaptable, in ways our ancestors could never imagine.  If we are going to build an "Open Future©" for ourselves, we need to take active steps to increase our adaptability.  

"A Short History of Progress" by Ronald Wright, is the history of four past civilizations.  Each of them self-destructed from a combination of lack of foresight and poor choices that lead to overpopulation and irreparable environmental damage.  Civilizations develop a successful strategy which for many years seems to create progress.  When natural barriers to further "progress" appear, the response is to work even harder to "progress" in the same way.  Cultural beliefs and vested interests strongly resist the need to change.  Wright calls this an "ideological pathology".  

"Wright concludes that "our present behaviour is typical of failed societies at the zenith of their greed and arrogance" (p. 129). "It is a suicide machine" and "Things are moving so fast that inaction itself is one of the biggest mistakes. The 10,000-year experiment of the settled life will stand or fall by what we do, and don’t do, now". (p. 131)."

We badly need new models for success in a networked world.  New theories, principles, and innovative ways of resolving conflicts.  You and I need to do it if having an "Open Future©" is to be possible.  

Sadly, we tend to invest a huge amount of effort protecting our current beliefs from attack.  We choose what to read and who to listen too.  We find it almost impossible to read or listen to views that are opposed to our pre-existing ideas.  We try to reinforce the castle of ideas we have built.  We are reluctant to recognise that the castle might have faulty architecture, or built with faulty materials.  We don't like to "unlearn" or disassemble the structure in our minds so it can be re-built.  We need to find ways to examine our own thinking and our learning more effectively?  The last frontier is to explore how you learn, and how you can recognise and correct the mis-built learning of the past.  

I believe the key to that is in keeping written records.  All your personal knowledge is "self discovered".  If you are accumulating your "own data" keeping a record of your own experience and accumulated knowledge, you should be creating a niche for yourself, where your "self discovered" knowledge is valuable in whatever you do.  

I recommend maintaining a journal, but a lab book, bench notes, a change log, might serve the same purpose.  Keep a record of the things you are working on.  In particular learn to count or to measure, and record what you have found.  Over time you'll find that repeated counts or measures reveal change you would not otherwise notice.  You'll also discover that you are the only person who has those numbers.  That will give you insight other people don't have.  Insight often first appears as a mystery.  "This is queer", unexpected and unexplained.  So you begin to look for ways to understand what you have found.  You start to ask questions nobody else considers important.  You are opening up for yourself a pathway others are not walking.