By Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza

Are you open to new knowledge? These days the term ‘open-minded’ has received some bad reputation partly because of those who have abused it as an opening line for a networking business.

Aside from that, opening your mind to new knowledge could be hard because it is more comfortable to follow the old ways than to adapt to change. But do you realize that being open to new things, new knowledge opens doors to new opportunities, adventures, new friendships and love that can provide you with happiness and fulfillment that you have been looking for?

Let me tell you a story of an old Kung Fu Master who was with a favorite apprentice near an old port. The apprentice intently watched his Master who jumped into the water without sinking. He watched his master jumping a few more times without sinking until he was almost in the middle. After doing a few passes, the master promptly went back to the shore. The apprentice was amazed and said to himself, “I am my master’s favorite, and I am a great apprentice.

I’m good at our craft. I have trained long and hard enough. I can do that too!” Armed with this idea he got up, concentrated and did some Kung Fu moves then jumped into the sea expecting to stay afloat like his master. But lo and behold down he went! Struggling, short of breath and aghast at almost drowning, he got back to the shore. His master berated him, “What did you do that for?” He said to his master, “what you did, floating on the water is so cool, I thought I could do it too!” His master laughed out loud and said, “Stupid kid! This is an old port! It has been destroyed by several strong storms and only the pier posts have remained. They are scattered around and slightly submerged in the water. I know exactly where the posts are and have jumped on there. That’s how I stayed afloat! You should have asked me first before jumping into the water!”

MORAL OF THE STORY? Don’t think that you know everything, regardless of your education and training. There will always be something more to learn. So, don’t be a big “know-it-all”!

GUIDELINES ON BEING OPEN TO NEW KNOWLEDGE. Now you know about the “why”, now let’s go to the “how”. As I’ve said earlier, being open to new knowledge may not come easily especially to those who are already fixed in their old ways. Whenever we find it a challenge to accept new ways other than our own, remember what God said in Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We should never reject new knowledge as it is an important aspect in growing, learning and achieving success. Moreover, our reverence to God’s Holiness should be our starting point. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Step #1 BE SLOW TO ANGER WHEN YOU HEAR AN OPINION DIFFERENT FROM YOURS. Proverbs 29:11 says “A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds it back.” When we hear a contrasting opinion, our initial or gut reaction is to get defensive and argumentative. But being open to new knowledge means controlling this impulse and giving yourself time to think about the opposing opinion and the value it may have. Look at it from their perspective and see the good in that particular opinion. Also learn to acknowledge that each one will have their own opinion and that matters too. Like for instance, your co-workers may have an idea or two in completing a business project. Even if you’re the team leader, it would also be good to listen to what they have to say. You might see a great value in their suggestion that could help you complete your project sooner and maybe even better. So how do you react when you receive an opinion contrary to yours?

Step #2 THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX AND STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. It is easier to keep doing what we’ve always been doing and to stay in our comfort zone. We simply stay where we are without making an effort to learn new things. Closing yourself to new learnings leaves us stagnant, stale and we fail to move forward.

We must embrace new challenges because unfamiliar situations allow us to learn and improve ourselves. A friend of mine told me about his younger brother who just left a job he had for ten straight years. Fortunately, he found a new job with a higher pay and sounder benefits. Though completely new from the previous job, he remains open-minded to embrace brand-new challenges and commitments. Are you open to new possibilities and alternative ways to develop your skills and talents?

Step #3 BE BRAVE TO ASK QUESTIONS. Some of us are afraid to ask questions because we fear being thought of as stupid or ignorant. Just like the apprentice in our story, he didn’t want to ask his master how the “trick” was done probably because he wanted to impress and show his master that he has learned. He came to his own conclusion, thinking that he knew everything, only to miserably fail in the end. Proverbs 15:14 says “The mind of one who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.” So, if there is anything you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Ask questions and learn. Are you too proud to ask questions?

Becoming open-minded can be quite challenging especially when we refuse to budge from the comfortable spot we are in. But when you keep yourself open to possibilities, you open yourself up to new opportunities and new learnings. This trait is valuable if you want to succeed. Remember, when you keep a positive demeanor in dealing with new challenges, you also open yourself up to new discoveries that can help you achieve true success.