Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm always taken aback when people say, " oh, he's got it made," as if that's is the end of the conversation about a person. They seem to be saying that the person can just check out and coast because he's already arrived.

To me , arriving means something is about to begin. Graduation from college is a beginning, not an ending. Each success is the beginning of the next one.

Learning is a new beginning that we can give ourselves everyday.

A know-it-all is like a closed door. Everyone who knows me knows I keep the door to my office open. It's symbolic of the way I choose to think, and it's the way I operate. My father was much the same. He once said to me, "You know, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. I think that has kept me young at heart more than anything else."" It was an offhand comment, a quiet realization he mentioned to me one day when I was reading, but it has stuck with me for decades.

Everyday is a reminder to me of how much I don't know. Everything I learn leads me to something else I didn't know. Fortunately, I don't pride myself on being know-it-all, so everyday became a new challenge. People ask me what keeps me going, and this is probably the closest answer to the truth. If I end the day without knowing more than I did when I woke up, it makes me wonder: What did I miss out on today? Am I getting lazy? I am a disciplined person, and this thought alone can make me going.

We'ave all heard the phrase "create of habit ". That can be good or bad, depending on your habits. I've cultivated the learning habit over the years, and it's one of the most pleasurable aspect of my life. Everyone in my family knows I'm big on education - not just Ivy League education, but all education, and for people of all ages. That also applies to me, and while I got very good grades in school, I do not have time to be scholar. Still, it's something I aspire to in my quite time. Possibilities unfold. The worlds open up.

My sister Maryanne introduced me to the writings of Aldous Huxley. He was such a learner that when he was faced with nearly-total blindness as a young man, he learned braille and continued his studies anyway. His description of this predicament had not a trace of self-pity. In fact he mentioned, that it had offered some benefits: He could now read in bed at night and his hands would never get cold because he could read with his hands under the cover.

Learning begets learning. I'd rather be stimulated than than passive.

You can't wear a blindfold in business. A regular part of your day should be devoted to expanding your horizons.

We live in a big world, and it is important for us to be aware of cultures other than our own. I have always live in the United States, but I make an effort to be informed about other cultures. That's easy to do in New York City, the most diverse and exciting place on earth.

Someone who had been living abroad for a few years told me , upon returning home, that a frequent comment about Americans is that you always know exactly where we're coming from. The flip side of this is that we rarely know where anyone else is coming from. We are very much up to the snuff about our own national events, but we are less aware of what's happening in other countries. All of us need to pay more attention to events outside our own realm. We are connected to each other in so many ways - politically, socially. Perhaps one of the reasons I've been able to sell and rent apartments to people of so many foreign nationalities is that I've made an effort to understand where they're coming from.

Learn something new, whether you think you're interested in it or not. That's the opposite of having a closed mind - or a closed door. I can thank my father for the example he set. It was the key to his remaining young and dynamic into his nineties. It can do the same for you, if you make the effort.


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