Tag Archive | Humility

The most important principle of learning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important principle of learning?”

“Is it feedback?”

“Indeed, without feedback, no learning is possible. 
However if you don’t act on the feedback, no learning occurs.
And if you don’t process the feedback, you can’t act on it.”

“Reminds me of Ray Dalio’s five-step process: 

I turned it into a model which I call Problem/Diagnosis/Design.”

“That is the very structure of a learning cycle. I phrase it differently:

Reflection (Understanding)
Design (Implementation, Optimization)

But, in essence, it’s the same thing.”

“Is learning cycles the most important principle of learning?”

“I always like to remind myself that we don’t know what we don’t know.

What matters is that it has beautiful practical application.”



Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Resetting?”

“By Resetting I mean returning to a baseline, to a set reference-point. 

In practical terms, that can mean returning to a balanced, more resourceful / receptive state.

Resetting is a tool.”

“Can you give some examples of how you use the tool?”

“Here’s a few:

Centering (Proactive/Reactive)

This can mean reconnecting with your BodyMind.
It can mean reconnecting with your Center, however you define it for yourself.”

“How do you define it for yourself?”

“I think of my Heart as my Center, and through it I access my Meta-Values [<link; short read], Love, Gratitude, Beauty, and Play, which have a powerful priming effect.

Equanimity (Reactive)

Recovering mental balance once lost, ideally in the moment. This can be done in various ways, depending on the circumstances.

One way is by focusing on what you can control.
What happened a few moments ago is the past, hence outside your control. What you can control is what you do this moment.

I like to perform this reset with a mantra:

Every moment is a fresh beginning. (T. S. Eliot)

Or, with a slightly different nuance:

Every end is a new beginning.

Another way is by focusing on Dignity.
Remembering your inherent worthiness, and everyone else’s.

A powerful mantra I use is:


Humility (Proactive/Reactive)

Bringing to mind the limits of your knowledge and understanding, and the limits of understanding itself.

For this, I use two beautiful mantras:

I know one thing: that I know nothing. (Socrates)


I don’t know.

Emptying your cup (Proactive/Reactive)

Letting go…

Letting go of assumptions.
Letting go of evaluations / judgments.
Letting go of desires and expectations.

On the limits of understanding 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I don’t know why he did it. It’s so out of character for him.”

“I’d say it’s out of depth on your part narrowing human ‘character’ to that which reveals itself to outward examination, and to your necessarily limited experience.

Trying to understand another human being is like trying to catch the river in a jar.

“Are you saying I shouldn’t even make the attempt?”

“Making the attempt despite the futility of it is what makes the Game beautiful.

What I’m saying is that how you do it matters.

Do it in the spirit of Humility. 
Do it while keeping the limits of understanding [<link; medium read] constantly in mind.

Try to understand the Process.
But, more importantly, remember to appreciate them as the Process.”

The Antilibrary


The stack of unread books that will humble you and remind you just how much there is still to learn (Ryan Holiday)

A reminder of everything you don’t know and an ode to everything you want to explore. (Anne-Laure Le Cunff)

My Antilibrary

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Antilibrary is such a beautiful practical concept.”

“What’s the practice?”

“Make a list of all the books you want to read. I use Google Spreadsheets because it’s free. You could even name it ‘Antilibrary’. Whenever you discover a book you want to read, add it to the list.

Look at your Antilibrary every day, and whenever you do, bring to mind Socrates’s wisdom:

I know one thing: that I know nothing.

You’re thus practicing Humility.

Moreover, express heartfelt Gratitude for having access to this wealth of knowledge.

You’re thus practicing Appreciation.

You can also turn it into a memento for why you want to read them. Whenever you look at your Antilibrary, bring to mind your Quest for Wisdom and Mastery, or whatever your motivation is.

You’re thus feeding the Fire of Motivation.”

P.S. You can see my antilibrary here.

The Joy of Learning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“My to-read list has exceeded 400 books, and I’m constantly discovering more.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“Humbled, grateful, and excited.

I love Nassim Taleb’s concept of antilibrary – the stack of unread books as a constant reminder of how little you know.

I’m grateful for having access to all this wealth of knowledge.

And I’m excited at the prospect of reading them all and absorbing their wisdom.

Lover of Wisdom 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“When dealing with such a complex topic, how do you approach it?”

I start by saying to myself ‘I don’t know‘.

“But you do know quite a lot about it.”

“The point of it is to ’empty my cup’, to remind myself of the limits of my knowledge, and to approach it from a position of (epistemic) humility.”

The Art of Asking Questions 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Why do you think he did it?”

“I think it’s because x.”

“Are you certain of it?”

“Not really. Maybe it’s be because y, or z.
Why do you think he did it?”

“I don’t know.

I think an important aspect of Questioning (The Art of Asking Questions) is knowing what questions to ask, and when, and what questions are worth answering.

In this case, the energy expended on generating answers was wasted. We simply don’t have enough information.”

“What would have been some better questions to ask?”

“Without insight into the context of someone’s life, the probability of error is very high, almost a guarantee.

Sometimes it’s not a matter of what question to ask, but whom to ask. Sometimes no one can know better than the person in question. And sometimes not even they know.

The idea is to approach it from a position of humility: I don’t know.

One possible question to ask is:

Is generating possible answers in this case likely to get me closer to the truth?

Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

Another useful approach is generating answers through the filter of Empathy, Compassion, and our common humanity.

There’s a quote I love:

Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Everybody hurts, everybody struggles. Even if you’re not likely to get closer to the truth of the matter, you get to practice Empathy and Compassion.”