Sunday, April 17, 2005

Learning from Stupidity

Learning from Stupidity

It is strange to be sitting at a cafe in a busy mall on a Sunday, doing my work. Everywhere around me, I see people looking relaxed in their faded T-shirts, bermuda shorts and slippers while I'm hunched in my seat, eyes locked on a flickering 15.4 LCD screen, deeply engrossed in my cyber-chores.

I want to pick up my momentum for work again before my next overseas trip. It can be very difficult to summon enough enthusiasm and energy to continue doing your work day in day out because after a while, they become so repetitive and tedious. Even though I wouldn't call my work repetitive because project work is never so, the subject matter that I deal with can quite be tiresome--networks, data centers, storage, middlewares, databases and other boring stuff like that.

The challenge for me is to find ways to inject novelty and creativity into whatever mundane task that I'm doing. Even though I'm tackling a problem that I've dealt with before, I'd try to find alternative approaches to it. I enjoy looking at things from a different perspective and I am always eager to see if there are more efficient ways of doing it.

I'm also very curious to know how other people think. Do they view the situation or scenario the way I see it? If not, what's the difference? And how do they arrive at their point of view? What is the paradigm that they adopt? Do they have a unique insight that I've somehow missed?

The way I think is influenced by many factors: my upbringing, my education, my life's experiences and the books that I've read. No two person travel the same path, so it is not surprising that we all have our individual ways of thinking. When a person says or do certain things that I find disagreeable, I am more interested in understanding why he thinks in the way he does rather than to go on a frenzy of criticism.

Our work could be tedious and tiresome but if one tackles it with an exploratory mind, always seeking to learn and to understand, one will always find freshness in it. No one can claim that he or she has learned enough. We can even learn something from people whom we think are "stupid". Didn't Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) make a fortune from observing the stupidity of the corporate world?

So be grateful that there are so-called "stupid" people in this world because they can be your teacher too. Why do we think they are stupid? What makes them think in the way they do? How does the world look like from their "stupid" perspective? But most importantly: how sure are we that we ourselves are not stupid???

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