“Knowledge comes from learning. Wisdom comes from living.”
Anthony Douglas Williams
A friend of mine sent me something the other day that I just found to be hilarious. In it he said “I just realized that I have been alive in seven decades. The 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s, the 2000’s, the 2010’s, the 2020’s, and March…”
For many people I am sure that March certainly feels like it has been the longest month in the history of time doesn’t it? So much has happened that many people never expected was even possible. No matter how much knowledge you had going into this nothing compares to the wisdom that will come from having lived through it.
I have written before about my daily journal habit and the format that I use to capture my thoughts and learnings. I recently added a new question to my routine.
What is the wisdom I am meant to learn from this situation and how will I be able to apply that in my life as we grow out of this?
The time will pass, how can we ensure that our opportunity to gain wisdom doesn’t slip by?
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.”
It is amazing how what you think you know can change over time as you realize and learn how narrow your own thinking and perspective actually can be. Learning something new not only allows one to create new opportunities but also to understand how what you thought you knew all along was incorrect.
I wish I could go back in time and teach myself all the lessons that I have learned over the years when I discovered that what I thought I knew wasn’t a complete picture of reality.
Take the time to invest in reflection and introspection, this is the key to learning from the past and growing into the future. An open mind is the key to discovery…
How do you know when you are gaining wisdom? When you are listening to learn, not to simply respond. What is the most effective way to accomplish this? Improve your ratio of questions to statements. If you are making more statements than asking of questions you are focused on imparting knowledge. If you are asking more questions then you are learning to gain wisdom. The value of wisdom is knowing how and when to use your knowledge. Without wisdom, you just have information, and that’s not nearly as valuable…
“All wish to possess knowledge, but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price.”
What is it that you find exciting about learning? What topics motivate you to put forth the effort to study and grow? Do you find the time to embrace opportunities to gain new knowledge and wisdom? Do you intenionally create those opportunities?
I have long believed that the minute one stops learning you begin to descend into a place of complacency and then irrelevancy. Perhaps this comes from my formative years as a autodidactic where everything I learned from 5th grade until college was self-taught and self-directed. (I was home-schooled through those years and 100% of my learning was self-directed) For years I believed that this was a impediment and something that held me back, but now I believe that it was exactly the opposite, it created an insatiable thirst for knowledge and learning for topics that I was intrigued by. It never felt like work to put forth the effort into the topics I was interested in.
That is the key to learning, you must have the motivation to do the hard work. The magic happens when the effort is joyful and it doesn’t feel like labor at all. Instead the energy and time spent acquiring knowledge feels like a gift and a blessing. Motivation to invest the energy and time required to develop mastery of any subject comes in two forms.
First, a passion for the topic itself and whatever it is that you are learning. For me that would be reading books on history and leadership throughout history. I love digging into a great book on historical figures and understanding how and what they did in their lives that impacted the course of the world. For example, I am reading the book “Hamilton” right now and it is absolutely fascinating. Other great examples are the Walter Isaacson books on Steve Jobs, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Einstein. For some, reading these books would be pure torture and boredom but for me they were all fascinating and the effort to read them wasn’t work at all.
Second, a passion for the end result that comes from gaining new wisdom and knowledge. This can take many forms but it is the desire to achieve some goal that makes the hard work to attain knowledge worth the effort. An example might be a topic in college that isn’t personally interesting but is required to achieve the end state, the degree, so one puts for the effort to learn and master the material.
The key to learning is this, discover your motivation that makes it worth paying the price of learning. These will either be internal or external but they must exist or one will never be able to motivate themselves to enact the discipline required to learn something new. Learning is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be joyless work. I would strongly argue that the best way to learn is to discover your joy for the work. Then, and only then, does learning becomes easy, and worth the price…
“If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come.”
I wonder how much growth and change has been initiated by ideas that occur when people are “in the shower.” I know that this is a cliche but it certainly appears to be true from folks that I talk with regularly. Getting outside of a normal thinking environment and allowing your mind to work unburdened by daily stress and routine demands is so important.
Now though, it makes me think of the quote differently. What if you changed just one letter in the above? What if it read, “If we wander often, the gift of knowledge will come.” I think I wonder best when I wander…