Thinking agility

This man had a flat tire next to the insane asylum. He jacked up his wheel, took it off, put the nuts in his hubcap, and put it up on his hood. They fell off into his grill, and he couldn’t get them out. He thought, “Oh, Lordy. What am I going to do?”

Across the fence one of the inmates was watching him and said, “Just take one nut off each of the other wheels and put them on that one, that way you’ll have three nuts on each wheel, and it’ll get you where you’re going.”

He said, “That’s a brilliant idea. Why, you’re not crazy. What are you doing in there?”

“I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.”

Moral: In order to maintain a balanced view of the world, we need to assimilate information from people who have a different approach to life than we do. If we only tune-in to people who provide the sort of advice that we want to hear, we can make it impossible for us to develop our thinking abilities.

It is evident that one needs humility to learn from everyone, especially those whom we perceive to be beneath us in status or qualification. Confucius explains that Kong Wenzi was given the title of ‘cultured’ because he was ‘diligent and loved learning, and not ashamed of asking advice from those below him’.

The possibility of learning from everyone… reminds us once again that learning, for Confucius, is an active, lifelong and life-wide process that is intimately linked to real-life application.

By considering ideas that do not fit into our preconceived notions, we can give our minds the agility to simultaneously grasp diverse ways of thinking about a situation.

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