Our minds are sponges and knowledge is the water that it absorbs. The sponge mentality is an idea that I continuously preach and it is the sagacious mindset that allows you to extract practical knowledge from people and experiences you encounter in your daily life.As humans, if we focus on what the world around us is presenting, we will realize that there is gold (knowledge) to be acquired from everyone and everything we come in contact with.
With that said, here are five reasons that the sponge mentality is an important trait to develop:
1. Knowledge is in abundance; develop a thirst
One thing you can never have enough of and never will have enough of is knowledge. Knowledge is infinite and a thirst for it will aid your sponge tremendously. You will start to notice that the more knowledge you obtain, the more you realize you do not know and that will ultimately spark your thirst for more. In the great words of Socrates, “To know, is to know you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” Be aware that there is knowledge all around you waiting to be discovered.
“What you seek is seeking you” – Rumi
2. Everyone knows something you don’t
The first thing you need to do is quickly form the mindset that everyone knows something that you do not. After you realize that, your job is to extract whatever useful knowledge that can benefit you. Get in the habit of asking one thought-provoking question to people you meet throughout the day and you will be amazed at where the conversation takes you. Always look for the underlying messages within conversations. They might just hold new nuggets of information that could change the way you live life.
3. It raises your curiosity level
Once you begin developing the sponge mentality, you will instantly become more interested in the people and things around you. Forget the old adage “curiosity killed the cat.” Be attentive, don’t ever allow yourself to walk into a room without looking around the confines to see what knowledge there is to offer. If you are in a science lab look at the periodic table and learn about a new element.
If you are in a math class look at the board and try solving the problem left behind. By being attentive and aware of your surroundings, you will spark and increase your curiosity level. Thus, your sponge mentality will evolve, opening your mind to new ideas and people.
4. Makes you a better listener
Listening and the sponge mentality go hand and hand. By opening your ears and tuning into what people are saying, you might learn something that will instantly increase your knowledge. The idea is always to be present in the moment. Listening is an important characterize to have, however, it is one that takes time and effort to improve.
I suggest that you find what you are interested in, and when someone talks about it, pay closer attention, in another word, listen. As you do this, your curiosity level will increase, as well as your ability to listen. Additionally, you will find that you have acquired added benefit: further comprehension and analysis of the subject. It’s not a coincidence that great leaders are good listeners. Great leaders often use the sponge mentality that they have developed and perfected over time to assist them in leading and motivating others.
5. Helps decipher good ideas from bad ideas
To paraphrase the words of Abraham Lincoln, “I learn from everyone, often times it’s what not to do.” The most important part of the sponge mentality is analysis. Knowledge is in abundance, however, it is up to you to determine if it is useful or not. A rule of thumb – know who is speaking and know when to stop speaking! There are certain people that are going to be able to provide you more value than others; when these people are present, know it’s time to listen and ask questions instead of expressing how knowledgeable you are.
Be discerning! Learn to be able to analyze and obtain the important information and discard the unimportant information. Ask yourself some inventory questions to decipher the importance of what is being said. Is this something of value? Why is it not valuable? How can I gain or add value to what is being said? By doing this, you will be well on your way to gaining the most value from any environment you find yourself in.
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The world is the true classroom, there are good teachers and there are bad teachers and something can be learned from them all. Be aware of this and figure out a way to be an active listener. Knowledge can come from less likely sources as well and the most beneficial sources. Be willing to go the extra mile to acquire knowledge, so you can be two miles of ahead of the pack!