The same happens with the people we meet. Sometimes our prejudices, stereotypes or simply the haste, prevent us from appreciating what these people have to give us. But if we live with a more open mind, if only we were more willing to receive, we would discover, with amazement, that sometimes we receive more from those we least would have expected something from.
The gifts come from the most unexpected directions
The Second World War had just started and the Nazis were advancing throughout Europe. One of their secret weapons was the Enigma machine, through which they sent encrypted messages to submarines that were intercepting the ships carrying aid sent from the United States to Europe.
In this context, the British recruited one of the best mathematicians and cryptanalysts of the moment, Alan Turing, and gave him a mission that seemed imposible: decipher Enigma. Turin decided to put aside the traditional method of encryption, and started working to create a machine capable of decoding Enigma. Everyone thought he was crazy.
After years of hard work, without being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of his invention, and in the process of being set apart from the project, a woman who had nothing to do with encryption but was listening and transcribing messages, during a conversation gave him the idea of code that would turn his machine running.
Thanks to the hard work of Turin, who is now considered the computer science pioneer, and the informal conversation with that woman, it is estimated that the war went over between two and four years earlier, saving many lives.
This example, which is not the only one in history, tells us that many times, people from whom we expect tghe least, can have a tremendous gift for us, we must not do anything else than keep us open and listen. The problem is that sometimes we are too closed in on ourselves, often our beliefs or the knowledge that we have accumulated, prevent us from seeing and accepting those gifts.
The mistake of thinking as experts
very interesting experiment conducted at Cornell University highlights the risks of thinking as experts. These psychologists recruited a group formed by 100 experts in various subjects, some were geographers, other economists, philosophers, biologists… Everyone had to answer a series of questions, some of which were related to their specialty.
However, the trap was that some of these questions contained incorrect data. For example, a Geography question referred to a nonexistent city and a biology one included non-existent terms in that science.
Nevertheless, the experts were the ones that fell into this trap. Why? Simply because they didn’t recognize their lack of knowledge in a field in which they considered themselves specialists. Therefore, what they thought they knew turned into a barrier that prevented them from spotting errors.
And it is curious to note that, even if we don’t recognize it, we often act as the experts of that experiment. We adopt this attitude:
– Every time we think we’re superior to someone else
– Every time we think we have the absolute truth in our hands
– Every time we believe that nobody has anything to teach us
– Every time we close ourselves to new ideas because of our stereotypes
But very often, it is precisely those most alien to us that are able to offer us a new perspective on the problem, a more objective and innovative perspective. Therefore, it always pays to listen to anyone.
Wonderful people that give us gifts without asking anything in return
Sometimes, there are people who just surprise us. In fact, it usually happens often to parents with their children. They can put all their hopes and dreams on one of them and, at the end, it’s just the other son who realizes those dreams or follow the family tradition.
This phenomenon is also found in relationships or in the circle of friends. When everything seems to fall apart around us, the support and understanding couldn’t come just from family, friends or partners, but by a colleague or a mere acquaintance.
In fact, it is something that occurs frequently in hospitals. When people are hospitalized in the same room and spend much time together, usually they find in the “unknown” of the bed next to them the best consolation, an understanding that the closest people can not offer because they didn’t have the same experience.
Many of these people will disappear from our lives, go down at the next station and each one will follow its own path. However, from time to time, it is worth reminding, remembering what they contributed, often without expecting anything in return, surprising us pleasantly. Who knows? It is likely that one day, maybe today, these people also remember the support that we offered to them.
It is certainly very nice that someone surprises us this way. It comforts the soul receive something from someone who does not expect anything in return. But we must not forget that in order to receive, we must first be willing to accept.
Remember that …
Sometimes those you believe less are those who teach you the most, and the one you give the less is the one from who you receive more…
Sometimes the one from who you expect the less is who gices you more, and the one you think less is also who think of you more…
Sometimes who talkes more is also who listen less, and who promises more keeps the less…
Sometimes those who are farther away are those that in case of need are closer, and those who are close when everything goes well, are also the ones that go quickly away when things get worse…
Sometimes it is simply difficult to understand this dimension of life; feel, think and believe that things are minus, when in fact they are much more…
Atir, S. et. Al. (2015) When Knowledge Knows No Bounds. Self-Perceived Expertise Predicts Claims of Impossible Knowledge. Psychological Science; 26(8): 1295-1303.