I saw this Emerson quotation referenced in an Austin Kleon tweet yesterday:
I will learn from everyone and be no one’s disciple.
I couldn’t find the original source for it, but it seems very Emersonian.
Learn from everyone. Don’t assume you are wiser than anyone you encounter. Every person has experienced things you haven’t. Be open to what others can teach you. Be humble. Assume nothing about anyone.
When inclined to judge, try to understand instead.
This is all easy to say. Not so easy, though, to be the kind of person who truly faces the world so open-heartedly, so teachable and humble. Maybe this means asking more questions of others and genuinely listening to the answers. Listening more than you talk.
Then there’s the “be no one’s disciple” half of the phrase. No matter how together someone seems or how authoritative they are said to be, don’t bow down to their opinions and copy them into your worldview. Accept nothing without reasonable inquiry and solid evidence. Don’t give over your freedom to anyone else. Ever.