Gaining a Glance at the Great

I have never met someone who I admire, or consider “great”, who has not been heavily influenced by the greats before them. The importance of influence could not be understated enough. The truth is we all stand on the shoulders of giants, all of us, without exception. The more giants we can stand on the higher we can climb.

Ever person I admire, when I get to their epistemic roots, the place where they learned it all, you find out that they spent a ton of time around certain significant figures. And not only were they around these great people, they were learning from them, engaging with them, observing and applying their behaviours.

Humans are experts at learning through the observation of those whom they admire. In fact, 2 year old girls can embody the spirit of their mothers when they play. They might pretend to cook and serve their guests, they may practice being courteous and gentle. 6-year-old little league hockey players may attempt the same moves as the NHL players they watch on TV. Even down to the facial expressions and reactions when they score a goal or miss a shot.

How to gain access?

This is all well and great for the people who have access to these great people. But what about everyone else? What about the people who don’t have access to the successful people, and we aren’t able to gain their approval and insight and wisdom? Well, luckily we live in the age of information. We have access to videos, movies, books, podcasts, all at the click of a button. If you don’t like reading, there are plenty of videos which explain the same concepts found in books. If you don’t have time to watch videos, there are millions of podcasts and audiobooks which you can listen to while driving, or doing chores.

The age of information has given the average person access to the shoulders of all giants. Why don’t we study? I suppose there are two reasons. The first is because we don’t have a clear aim. So we are unsure about the giants which we should be studying. And two, we lack the will to read, listen, watch etc.

The first issue can be solved by deep reflection, being honest about what we are interested in, I highly recommend writing about this so that you can concretize your aim. The second issue can be solved through incremental increases of the will. Ask yourself what are you willing to do today to gain a glance of wisdom? Is it read for 10 minutes? 5 minutes? 1 page? 1 paragraph? Be honest with yourself, start with what you are willing to do, and before you know it you will be doing the impossible.

Hustle it up!

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