I want to follow up my earlier post about how we choose what we do not know with the words of Physicist Richard Feynman. The pleasure is in finding the thing out. This I believe with all of my heart. It is my experience. As I told someone today, I do not pretend to have answers for myself or for other people. But I ask good questions. Why? Because it is my experience that the pleasure is in finding the thing out.
Sadly, this has put me at odds with a lot of people, especially people who are not all that interested in finding the thing out…or worse, the people who actively stand in the way of me wanting to find the thing out.
In the last twenty something years, I’ve had three full time jobs. The first lasted most of that time. Why? Because I worked with and for people who hired me to find the thing out, who wanted to know what I found, and what we might do to make things better.
The last two jobs I’ve had, however, were exactly the opposite. I was hired to help make things better, but was kept from finding the thing out. It scared people. The more I dug, the more I was resented and the more I was blocked. Too many of the people did not want me to see behind the curtain. In one of those jobs, I was ineffective. I made zero difference. In my last job, however, I was left alone enough to find the low hanging fruit and make changes. And with my teammates, we made a huge difference. That difference, however, was not enough to allow people to open up, to pull back the curtain. they were not interested in the finding out and therefore, they did not experience the pleasure.
I am not judging anyone here, simply observing. But what I learned from these experiences was that Feynman was right. The pleasure is in finding the thing out. Why? In the end, the pleasure came from solving the problem. The pleasure was in the wonder, the curiosity, even in the freedom to doubt. The pleasure was in seeing what was heretofore unseeable.
When I work with people, this is my number one goal– to help them see the pleasure in finding the thing out. The difficulty, however, is that it seems too many people think they are different, special, unique in their problems, in their shortcomings. They want to grow, bu they don’t want to look at the problems. They are worried, afraid of being judged. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, the problems don’t exist if they do not see them.
Einstein once wrote that the greatest kind of freedom is inner freedom, the freedom to examine what’s inside ourselves, to access the promise inside each of us. Yet it seems to me that so few of us have that freedom.
So I ask again how do we know what we never learn? How do we choose what we do not know? How do find what we love, how do we find the love, if we never touch it and therefore never feel it?
How do we know the pleasure of finding something out if we never look for it?
This it seems to me is the purpose of education– to allow our children, ourselves to feel that pleasure, free of judgment. When I work with people, that is my hope, that they find the pleasure in finding the thing out about themselves. My hope is that my prodding, my curiosity about them spurs them to ask questions of themselves and to find pleasure in that exercise. If they do, they will keep their curiosity alive and find the answers themselves.
They will have a lifetime of learning.