Several exchanges over the past week or so have prompted this post, which shares a lesson I learned when learning martial arts in Japan. The transmission system in Eastern martial arts can be quite different to our Western understanding, and by hanging on to what we think is right we can lose out on a plethora of useful information.
The trap that Western people are most likely to fall into come into the areas of entitlement and categorization. The expectation that one is entitled to knowledge in a way that they expect it, in exchange for something such as time, effort or money is one that trips up many people here. Knowledge is valuable, and will be transmitted in ways that you might not recognize if you come with your own preconceived set of ideas. In Japan, the class with these elderly master instructors would frequently have no English translation, no correction in form or movement. You had to look, listen, steal.
The difference in a Western approach would be that people would demand explanation, instruction, delivery in return for their time and money. The difference is perspective, in that the western ‘customer’ would expect not only to see a move or technique displayed by a master, but have the master correct their movement until such time as they ‘owned’ the technique. These people would often be disappointed when these Japanese gentlemen frankly couldn’t give a crap about their ability to internalize things, and if they came to the class ever again.
If this is getting a little too esoteric, let me bring in some examples to help express the point, one person who could not see knowledge positively was a Mustachian who thought my spending shameful. This person has embraced a lifestyle where he is saving aggressively and hoping to retire early, and when he saw me talking about how I burned through not only 1.5M miles/points in 2013, but also a good $10K in cash for spending money and other related expenses his reaction was to deride the actions I took.
The mistake he made was categorizing my ‘spending’ as wasteful and completely missing the earning side, and how he could have ‘stolen’ the same concepts I use to fuel my lifestyle choices to propel his own. There is something to capture from every philosophy, but some people get so sidetracked that they don’t see the wood from the trees. Want to retire early on $24,000 per year? How would being able to earn $5,000 per year in cash back help that goal? I’d say it would make a massive impact.
The expectation that knowledge should be delivered in a way purely congruent with your own personal philosophy limits not only the spoon-feeding options that you might have, but also innovation into new fields and new opportunities. It is your responsibility to take the best of everything, and leave the worst behind.
I do, from time to time, hand out massively obvious pieces of information, such as how to earn $100 per month in cash back easily, or how to use Vanilla Reloads effectively – when we then get a piece of news from Nick from PFDigest that there is a 5% cash back card available do we really then need to draw arrows to it and explain the ROI on this, or can you figure it out by knowing how one system works, and understanding the impact of it from another?
So, don’t be so quick to dismiss something if on the surface it doesn’t fit into your categorization, or if it doesn’t deliver things on a platter for you – just because you might want to categorize it differently for that doesn’t mean that it cannot be a real game changer in the way that your personal plan works. If you cannot see the value it may well be that your way of viewing the subject is not sufficiently sophisticated, and that you don’t know how to look at a concept, steal the essence of it, and use it to help achieve your own personal goals, whatever they might be. It is with this mindset that you can not only take the best of things, but you can also improve upon concepts that have good potential, but have not been fully capitalized upon yet.