• Mindfulness

Rethink and Unlearn: Intelligence is mainly perceived as the ability to think and learn

In a rapidly changing world, the most crucial skill one can obtain may be the ability to rethink and unlearn.

How we change our minds, how we persuade others, and how we build cultures of lifelong learning are fundamental truths that help us make sense of the world. But, what happens when they are wrong?

Early on in my 20s, I was fascinated by achievement. I looked at people who have achieved wealth, high positions in multinational companies, or a certain social status and I was admittedly impressed. I felt that they must have worked hard and undoubtedly deserved to be where they are. But with time, certain events made me reevaluate my opinions and decisions about these so-called achievers. I found myself letting go of opinions that were no longer serving me well, and began to question this sense of achievement I had once admired. Yes, a big portion of the people I met and looked up to paved their road to success by stepping on other people, playing crooked games, and engaging in unethical and illegal matters to climb up the ladder.

Cut to my 30s, when my curiosity for knowledge led me to people whose ideas on history, philosophy, economics, socioeconomics, (the world!) gave me the feeling that I was learning and evolving. But, with time, charged conversations with these same people where they cling to their positions, led me to one of those “a-ha” moments. If knowledge reinforces people’s radical ideologies with no room to reexamine the basis of these truths, can knowledge stand alone?

That’s where we can segue into the book, Think Again by Adam Grant which captures the importance of intellectual humility. It all starts there! So now after years of exploring and learning, I have come to find that humility is, in fact, the best asset humans possess because it allows us to think about mistakes or wrong perceptions as a point of learning rather than a point of failure. The problem that we see in people around us is the fact that they haven’t yet acquired the flexibility to accept that they are wrong, which makes it more difficult for them to evolve.

The purpose of learning is not to affirm our beliefs and our ideologies. Our radical positions actually evolve. So, let me ask you this; what is the purpose of learning if not to evolve? And how can we evolve, if we are not humble in our convictions, curious about the alternatives, and open to discovery and relearning?

Tarek Mounir