Social Learning and Cumulative Cultural Adaptation
People say that monkeys are intelligent because they can use basic tools. Mark Pagel, a biology professor at the University of Reading, doesn’t agree. He points out that if monkeys are so smart, why do they use a little stick to reach into an ant hole and collect ants for food? Wouldn’t it be smarter to use a shovel?
In a recent speech at TED (Ted.com), Pagel pointed out that the single most important tool humans have is their ability to transfer cumulative knowledge. This is the reason that humans rule the earth today. It’s what separates the giants in industry from the beginners.
So what is your attitude towards learning today? How do you treat your elders? If you’re an elder, how do you treat a nearby young whippersnapper? Do you really think you know all that you need to to do better?
As we get out of school and grow older, all of us have a tendency to feel comfortable in what we know, but the truth is that the more we learn, the more we should realize how much we don’t and even can’t know.
We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. My point is that we need to continue learning from the ideas and strengths of others. Otherwise, we hamper our own chances for future success.
Don’t ever say, “I’ve heard that before”. You may have but you may also prevent whoever is talking to you from teaching you something you haven’t heard before. And for those of you that think you can’t learn from something from an old fogey, don’t fool yourself. You’ve learned everything you know from someone usually than you. When you start to think that way, you are on your way to getting old yourself.
A humble, open mind is one of your most valuable tools if you want to change your future for the better. Nurture your humility as much as you nurture your confidence.