There’s plenty of ‘knowledge’ around.
After all, most of the effort deployed by the education system up to and including the first degree level of ‘higher’ education is all about acquiring knowledge.
There are millions of books out there (maybe billions) all containing information and ‘knowledge’.
But what is ‘knowledge’?
Wikipedia defines it like this:
“Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as information, facts, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning”.
There are some interesting words in there, about what knowledge is and how it is acquired, but essentially it defines knowledge as a ‘feeling’ more than anything, using words like awareness, familiarity and understanding – which are all themselves ‘feelings’.
Now I could perhaps spend a whole day, or a week, or a month, or longer, researching and attempting to define what knowledge actually is, and I shouldn’t be surprised if more than one person has already written a PhD thesis on the subject.
But that’s not the point of this insight.
You see, I believe that far too much importance is placed by society on acquiring ‘knowledge’ in the belief that this will be ‘the answer’ to improving life for everyone.
People have a thirst for knowledge- they need to know – everything!
And some have been convinced that they have a ‘right’ to know everything – about everything – and everyone.
Because that’s what you and I and everyone else has been ‘educated’ to think. We think we need to know, we think we need more knowledge, we think we need to keep ‘learning’
And we do.
But here’s the thing –
The acquisition of knowledge for its own sake is a complete waste of time.
Just in the same way as the acquisition of money for its own sake is a complete waste of time.
Because, with knowledge and money alone (or even together) nothing happens, nothing changes, nothing is made, nothing moves, nothing and no-one grows.
Until you and I apply that knowledge or that money.
Until you and I apply it to a problem that needs to be solved, to a situation that needs to be improved, or to a vision that needs to be made real.
Knowledge is not ‘King’, knowledge is useless.
Until we do something with it!
Until we use these feelings of what we ‘know’, ‘understand’, are aware of, are familiar with, and apply them to whatever we want (another feeling) to do in or with our lives; or to situations we are presented with.
But of course, things are happening, things are being made, things are changing, things are moving and people are growing.
Because in most cases they have learnt how to apply a small part of their accumulated knowledge to whatever they do.
By trial and error, out of necessity, by being shown how by someone else, such as a coach, trainer or work colleague. Rarely by the established educational ‘system’.
The best ‘education’ I ever had was when I was being trained and coached to operate as a scuba diving instructor – a process of learn, apply, demonstrate and pass on. Each piece of knowledge was turned efficiently into a practical skill that I was able to pass on to others.
Isn’t it interesting that many people who had a ‘poor’ educational experience or were thought to be ‘unteachable’ went on to great achievements; great artists, great businessmen, great scientists, and great leaders.
How did that happen?
Not through the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake, not through accumulating as much knowledge as possible before making a start, not through indiscriminate ‘learning’.
Just as there were only certain ‘bits’ of knowledge required for me to become an instructor able to teach people to dive safely, only certain ‘bits’ of knowledge are required in any circumstance for you and I to achieve great results.
And for ‘great’ people to achieve ‘great’ things.
Henry Ford once, when questioned about his knowledge of his industry, replied with words to the effect that “I don’t know the answer to your question, but I know someone who does”.
And there’s another thing.
You and I don’t have to possess all the knowledge about anything we are involved in, provided we know who has it and that they can transfer it or apply it on our behalf.
You see –
The ‘secret’ of success is not to chase after knowledge, it is to understand clearly what we want and then seek out people who have the ability to apply their knowledge to our project.
Or, if we have the knowledge but aren’t sure how to apply it, work with a coach who can help us turn theory into action.
‘Success’ is not about knowledge.
When it boils down to it it’s really about people.
So, once you and I have a clear vision of what we want the first question to ask is
“Who do I know who . . .?”
Or maybe “Who do I know who knows who . . .?
And so on . . .