The importance of good guidance and mentoring
By Tayeb Chowdhury
No one likes being nagged, or being told they are wrong. Or even that the way they approach doing things should be done differently. Everyone has their own ways and methods that they stick to, sometimes stubbornly at that. To that extent, I want to introduce another dimension to that perspective.
Before I begin, I would like to introduce the japanese business philosophy of kaizen. Kaizen is a concept of continuous improvement; to change for the better. It is often a slow and methodical process, and I’m certain this concept can be applied to many aspects of life outside of business.
My reason for mentioning this concept is because of a wide spread mentality that is prominent in today’s society. A naive outlook that says ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’. A mindset that directly opposes the ability for positive change to take place. There is often a reluctance to follow something new once you have become used to it. But what if that new way is more efficient and easy. In the long run, all the small tweaks and changes you can gradually implement on a day by day basis could save you time which will add up. It is good to keep in mind that time is not something that you can get back, so we should make use of the little time we have.
You have to invest time to make time
Similarly to a business, if you do not invest anything into a business it is likely that you will not be able to generate any profit from it. In order to progress, we need to invest our time to save time; to that extent, this is where the importance of learning, and having guidance comes in.
The secret behind civilisations progression lies in learning from weakness
Everyone faces problems. There is no such fairytale as a problem free life. There have been billions of people who have been on our planet before us and many currently on it. Every problem we face, there is an almost certain chance that someone has experienced it before or is dealing with it at the same time. This experience is what is compiled into numerous forms of knowledge, whether in books, word of mouth, teaching, mentoring or even an online post.
For example: from ancient times practices were often passed down to their offspring who continued the family trade. In the case of a farmer, through experimentation and failures they will come to know what crops needs what conditions. What problems to look out for like pests, weeds or animals. Resulting from their experiences, practices like crop rotation were developed which was a huge step for agriculture at the time helping to combat starvation and food scarcity. This was achievable through having a headstart with information and guidance from other farmers. The world is vast so no one person can soak up all of its information so we need to rely on others for their knowledge and experience in order to get a head start.
Similarly, if a new form or martial arts was developed from scratch every time a person wanted to learn self-defence, it would end up being sloppy and need a huge amount of time to perfect and refine it after understanding its weaknesses. That is why the experience and knowledge of previous generations and an instructor come together to uplift a person to the point they reached after many years in a much shorter expanse of time.
A full belly is not the stomach of a scholar
A person must remove arrogance from themselves in order to learn. No one is perfect in their knowledge, there will always be flaws or things to expand upon. If you were to ignore an explanation given to you on the grounds that you have heard something similar, then you might miss the one thing from that explanation that is more than you already knew. Just as rivers continue to flow, so do advancements in knowledge. By stubbornly sticking to a full stomach you will not be able to eat anything new. This will make you miss out on new flavours and you will miss out on the insights you could have gained.
One must empty a vessel before they can fill it up again
You have to be ready to throw away pre-existing notions and ideas. A modern day example is the introduction of AI. I am personally not a fan. However, I recognise its capabilities and potential. Many people are of the mindset that if we let AI advance it will put jobs at jeopardy and so forth. But on the flip side we can use it to help relieve the burden and act in cohesion with human intelligence. There are many understaffed areas of work that need support and the use of AI or more manpower could come to great use to develop our workforce. There are pros and cons to all things, it’s how we can utilise their strengths to compensate for our weaknesses is what it boils down to. Humans are able to advance because we make the most out of our resources in order to develop, and the human mind is infinitely more complex than any computer programming so we should continue to make use of everything available to us to continue in our progression.
Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.
The above proverb may seem like an exaggeration, but it holds a sense of profundity. If a person were looking for an answer, rather than scrounging their way through countless books or scrolling endlessly online to only find a vague or partial answer to what you want to know. You could speak to a person directly. A person can guide you to what you want to know and you can probe more for exactly where you want to go. Also, if you are trying to understand a complicated concept that you find difficult to comprehend. You could end up spending excessive amounts of time trying to reach a conclusion. All in while, someone who has thoroughly understood a concept could explain things to you in much simpler terms to help you grasp it and build upon it with finer details later on.
To conclude, the key take away I want readers to take from this is that you should keep an open mind when learning. Although being told what to do as oppose to doing things the way you usually do may feel as overbearing; there may very well be reasoning behind it. The person advising may have previously used the same methods and faced problems. So they are advising you in good will so that you can avoid them. Next, I advise everyone to implement the kaizen philosophy into our lives. No person is perfect and we can always strive to make little improvements daily to move further. Also, do not be afraid to find guidance whether it be a teacher or mentor in a specific field or within pieces of writing as there is an endless wealth of things to learn. So much so, that even with our whole life we can barely scratch the surface.