Submitted by Don Doman.
Sometimes we get comfortable and forget that we need to expand our efforts, our limitations, and our horizons. This goes for individuals as well as communities, organizations, and countries. If we don’t seek to expand our knowledge we run the risk of stunting our growth both spiritually, mentally, and physically.
I remember a BBC television production concerning dwarf dinosaurs of Transylvania, land of vampires and legend. Born in 1877, Austro-Hungarian nobleman and self-taught palaeontologist, Franz Baron Nopsca von Felso-Szilvas searched out fossils of dinosaurs near his castle and then at other sites in Transylvania. What he found fascinating was that his local dinosaurs were tiny compared to their cousins found elsewhere in the world.
“They would have made cute pets,” says Dr David Weishampel, a modern day expert on Eastern European dinosaurs at Johns Hopkins University in the USA, and a fan of Franz Nopsca. Weishampel says that Nopsca had a brilliant idea about these budget-sized dinosaurs and why they were small. Nopsca thought about the creatures as a community, as members of an ecosystem, and proposed that their modest scale could be explained by the fact that they had lived isolated on a large island.
— Working With Dinosaurs, BBC World Service
Being isolated even on a large island can be limiting. Being isolated on a small island can be ruinous.
In an old History Channel commercial, a citizen of Dubai talks about the internet. He praises the amount of information available in books and writings to be found on the net. He figures if he doesn’t learn all he can, it’s because of his own laziness . . . and he didn’t seem lazy. Daily we compete with people well beyond the shores of our own little island, even if it seems like paradise. We need to learn all we can.
Learning and acting go hand and hand. Receiving knowledge is good, but doing something with it is imperative. We must discover how to use our understanding and learn how to make it work for us.
In business we need to be aware of people, customs, and ideas, as well as how we can put these elements to use. Ideas without action are worthless. We need to constantly learn and improve ourselves. We need to seek out problems and overcome them. If we don’t expand our knowledge with all of our resources at hand, we are no better than individuals who have no resources and no hope for anything better.
Henry David Thoreau lived two years in a tiny cabin on Walden Pond and it provided the basis for his book Walden; or, Life in the Woods. He wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Thoreau extolled the virtues of the simple life, but some people say his mother brought him cookies every day, and it wasn’t until he left Walden and published his book that he became famous.
To be competitive in business and life, we can’t afford to be lazy. We can’t afford to be cute little pets. We need to be hungry for learning. We need to rub shoulders with other people and ask questions. We need to outgrow our island. We need to draw our own connections and conclusions.