Wednesday, February 16, 2005


by Rubel Shelly

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Coach John
Wooden: "What really counts in life is what you learn
after you know it all."

After the initial chuckle, that is an ouch-maker for most
of us. The older we get, the more set in our ways we
are likely to be. The older we get, the harder it is to
master new skills and adapt to new paradigms. The
older we get, the more likely we are to tune out ideas
that would require re-thinking a point of view.

I wonder how all you older accountants and CPAs felt
about replacing those pale green ledger sheets and
sharp pencils with computer software -- software that
required one of those newfangled machines called a
computer! Do you know anybody who said it was just
a fad that wouldn't last?

How does a physician stay current with new
medications, diagnostic tools, and therapies? How
does an attorney stay abreast of changes in the law?
How does a professor stay current in her area of
scholarly research?

A key to success in every profession or business is
teachability. One can get left behind pretty quickly
these days! So a really good educational experience
bears little resemblance to indoctrination -- the
memorization of fixed right answers. It is, instead,
the mastering of good tools that allow one to do
credible research and the fostering of a mindset that
is willing to test everything.

In one's personal spiritual life, pride is among the
deadliest of sins for the simple reason that it prohibits
learning. The idea is not that we should vacillate as
doubting, ambivalent souls. Conviction is admirable.
However, informed convictions are eager to entertain
questions, new ideas, and challenges. It is rigid
dogmatism that is offended by them. We must
remember that Jesus rebuked folks who
wouldn't think or grow.

Don't you suspect openness to instruction was a big
part of Jesus' charge that his followers be child-like?
"Unless you change and become like little children," he
said, "you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:3
More good ideas have been killed with "We've never
done it that way before" than with good reasons as to
why it shouldn't be done some new way.

Maybe the young learn with more eagerness because
they aren't afraid to fail. Perhaps the reason older
people or firms or churches learn so little so slowly is
that pride makes us unwilling to take the risks
necessary for progress.

Prejudice against all things new is self-defeating and
unworthy of people in God's image. There are no
uninteresting ideas, only disinterested people.
[The LORD said] "For I am about to do a brand-new
thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my
people to come home. I will create rivers for them in
the desert!" Isaiah 43:19
Reprinted by permission from Rubel Shelly's FAX of