The Gruta Rules: My Thoughts on Lifelong Learning

As I sat through my graduation at Annapolis, I could not wait for the ceremony to end on that bright May morning despite the pomp of the occasion and the prestige of the guest speaker, Admiral William Crowe, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I was eager to throw my hat up in the air as tradition dictated with my 1,012 classmates signifying the end of four years of grueling academics, sports, and military training which I can describe as living on a “war footing.” One of the few things I remember from Admiral Crowe was when he quoted Newton Baker who said, “The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is an uneducated man the day after.”

If anything had an impact on me that day, it was probably that statement. While the US Navy has no shortage of schools to send you to prepare you for a job, I had made it a practice to take advantage of schools while in the government and industry, especially when tuition is covered by the employer. To be competitive, I saw going to class as “rearming and retooling” to possess the initiative when opportunities knock at my door. In fact my youngest daughter asked my wife, “Mom, why don’t you go to school in your spare time like Dad.” As a joke (I hope), my wife answered, “That’s because your Dad is still trying to figure things out…while Mommy already knows everything.”

As after hours education sometimes exacted a heavy toll on life experiences, I have placed a new emphasis on maximizing learning from the best school, experience, whether it’s your own or someone else’s. Books and the classroom are not ends to themselves, but rather supplements to what we learn from our environment, whether it be personal or professional. I often use them in counseling sessions and for self-examination. The following principles are some pearls of wisdom that I list today and will expound upon in future postings. I refer to them as the Gruta Rules:

  1.  It’s all about the execution.
  2.  A great Filipino Party or any party is a source of making  friends with someone.
  3.  Who’s you Daddy, Padrino, etc.
  4.  By all means, use your culture’s strengths to take you to your destination, but neither should you let its weaknesses keep you from it.
  5.  You may not change a situation or some one to favor you, but don’t pass up the opportunity to change your tactics.
  6.  Don’t let induced emotions dominate you. Get ahead.
  7.  Don’t pass up the opportunities to learn from your setbacks, as long as you live.
  8. Evaluate your plans and actions from the perspective of ends, ways and means.

My thanks to the Asian Lifelong Learner for this opportunity to share my thoughts! Meanwhile until my next post, keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground! There’s a lot to gain out there!

– Image by Ash Carter