Teacher Teacher Everywhere... And What a Lot to Learn - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Teacher Teacher Everywhere... And What a Lot to Learn

Sep 05, 2014

Teacher Teacher Everywhere... And What a Lot to Learn 

A colleague came up to me the other day to tell me I was doing something wrong at work.

I turned to him fully open to accept the constructive ideas he might have. If you have been reading some of my past letters you will know that I am a firm believer of the idea that 'everyone you meet knows something you don't'. And I try to keep myself open to anyone and everyone because I believe if I can even glean a second's worth of knowledge from a conversation it will have been worth it.

But as I stood there I could feel my mind glazing over. I was very busy, under a deadline, and I was like 'okay whatever, if it's something important it will come up again.' So I did the 'haan barabar hai haan you are so right' nodding energetically thing, while simply waiting for him to deposit his advice and go back to his work.

Truth is, I lost a valuable chance that day - to gain an advisor, to learn something new, to make a connection. I had a chance to do better work, and I let it slip.

What a hypocrite I was. Here was someone, out of nothing but the goodness of his heart (and even if he had another agenda what does that matter to me if I learn something) trying to help me, and in my arrogance and overconfidence I let it slip.

There are teachers everywhere. All around me. Everyone knows something and I want to learn what that is. I may not agree, I may not accept it, but I should know. Because remember what I said about tunnel vision?

When we believe something is true ... our mind 'sets' like cement... we start to see everything through that mind set .. it narrows our perception of reality and causes tunnel vision. When we have tunnel vision, we only see what agrees with our belief...everything else - reason, logic, arguments... will not be able to penetrate our tunnel. ( Emotional Atyachaar: Use it to Communicate Effectively)

So to be fully informed, and make mature decisions, we need to get perspectives that are different from ours. And to really open our hearts and minds and listen... which I didn't do.

In his recent meeting with the World Bank our Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to the World Bank chief that rather than money, India needs ideas, knowledge and expertise. He was talking about the value of learning, over that of earning.

I feel the same way. When I was offered a job in Cambodia a few years ago I thought long and hard about it. It was not a lot of money and that didn't matter to me at the time.

What mattered was what it would mean for me to work there, who I would be working with, what I would learn and what this meant for me as a professional, and as a person. After all, I would be uprooting my life and moving to a place I did not know in any sense - culturally, linguistically and socially.

Most importantly, would I have someone to learn from, a mentor, someone to look to as an example of what kind of leader I wanted to become one day? Someone willing to share what she knows, and guide me where I needed it. My boss turned out to be a woman with decades of experience in the field who was completely open with me and willing to guide. When I saw in her the mentor I had hoped for, I jumped at the chance. And today, I am a more mature thinker because of it.

But you don't need an amazing mentor to learn, lessons are everywhere. I had a colleague at my first internship, who was overpowering, mean, and bossy. But she was very very good at her work and single-handedly did the work of four. So much so that in spite of her attitude she was indispensable to the organization.

I learnt so much from her that although at the time she made my life hell, today when I remember her I am thankful. I learnt from her how not to be bossy and demeaning. And I learnt from her to do a good job at work and how much value that has. Today, if I work hard and get along with my colleagues, it's thanks to her. She was a mentor to me without even knowing it.

Getting a mentor is not difficult. Getting the right mentor is. Someone who is not trying to make you like them, but allowing you to be the best you.

A teacher who is willing to say, in the words of Allama Iqbal:

Tu agar mera nahi banta, na ban... apna toh ban

If you won't be mine, then don't. But at least be your own.

I always say that I learnt nothing at university, except how to learn.

School is only the beginning of education. It is where the fire of curiosity is lit and needs to be fed to keep going our whole lives. Every day, in some little way, we can learn something new. In fact, every single culture and religion gives us repeated reminders on the importance of learning:

"Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man," the Hindu philosopher Swami Vivekananda says.

"Knowledge is a shield against the blows of time," said the Muslim philosopher poet Nasir Khusraw.

And the Bible says, "An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge."

So whoever you might be and whatever you believe in, believe in this one thing, the power of learning.

Dr. Radhakrishnan was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was known for defending the Hindu identity against 'uninformed Western criticism'. But he developed his idea of the Hindu identity as a contrast to the Western idea which he learnt. Learning from a Westerner, at a British-run Institute, he then used that learning to create something his own.

When he became President of India and people wanted to celebrate his birthday, he said, "Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5th September is observed as Teachers' Day."

Today, in honor of 5th September, let's spare a thought for those teachers who have made us who we are, who have molded us into the people we have become - parents, school teachers, bosses, mentors, wise old uncles, thoughtful friends... for Teacher's Day let's send our hearts out to all those who knowingly and unknowingly continue to shape us into the people we have and hope to become.

Do you have any special teachers and mentors in your life, who inspire you to keep learning and growing everyday?

Image Source: SoumenNath/ShutterStock


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7 Responses to "Teacher Teacher Everywhere... And What a Lot to Learn"

Liaquat M.Ali

09 Jun, 2016

Very nice Article! Simple & educational analysis make it worth in Gold! The words, sentences seems coming out from your Heart & anything from heart always having magnetic connections!

Like (1)


13 Sep, 2015


dev golchha

09 Sep, 2014

Hi Anisa, Your write ups are refreshing and I always love to read them. Each word makes sense and injects energy. I'm a commodity trader and a financial planner and in love with what i do. Each day comes with its own sets of learning. My trading screen, family, friends, customers-happy and unhappy, all leaves so much to learn.So for me every day I celebrate as "Teachers day" and thank the life giving forces for waking me up to a another beautiful day. Anisa keep this ON and sure one day I'd fall in love with you.

Ashok Kumar Sethi

05 Sep, 2014

I appreciate your write-up. I study these with keenness. It gives me great satisfaction and I learn a lot from same. You have rightly said that there are teachers all around and everyone has his own knowledge and experience. Of course, one can learn a lot from them, but it requires patience to hear and listen. But, my own experience says, who has the time to listen to anyone, Boss is Boss and would never like to be dictated by any one. But, as you have rightly said that sometimes, somewhere, some personalities do come in our contacts who leave behind the memorable events in our life, which help us to grow more with passage of time. I still remember a person, who was my Director and I was very close to him because of my sincerity towards job. A moment came, when someone reported wrong about me and within no time I received a note from him saying, "It is good time to say Goodbye to you". Of course, when he realized that some wrong feeding was given to him, he sent the note saying Sorry.

K Ananda Rao

05 Sep, 2014

Even through this article I could learn. Ever since I learned meaning of GU - dark RU - Light I started understanding Guru stands for situation devoid of age, status, caliber or designation of a person. I believe this day to be used for further learning since education is finished with fetching of certificates but learning is ever ending. Succinctly education is a pond or a pool but learning is a river that flows to gigantic sea and at the same time distributes water for mankind.


05 Sep, 2014

Yes, I fully agree and believe that there are teachers all around us. It is up to us to take advantage of them. There is no age bar to be a teacher! Once I read about - who is a teacher? 'Aksharam Kalisidatham Guru' (even a letter taught, is a teacher).

The Skeptarian

05 Sep, 2014

A couple of quick comments i. One does not learn only from people....in fact, some extremely critical elements of learning happen in other ways. One can learn a lot from nature but does not because one does not know how to see and what to look for. Boredom is a great teacher and a source of creativity. Being connected all the time is a source of information, not of deep learning. Being alone with oneself (without feeling lonely) is another valuable source of learning. ii. Dr. Radhakrishnan may have reclaimed the ideals of Hinduism in a scholarly and masterful manner but he was no great fan of 'identity' obsession. He is said to have remarked ( a La Tagore) that the mark of a truly good man is his ability to be at home in any place in the world instantly....i.e someone who is not rooted to a place by reason of culture, language, religion. I wish we teach more of this in our schools today.

Like (1)

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