We are told from an early age that knowledge is the key to success. If we learn we will achieve. If we set our sights high when establishing our goals and objectives – and work hard to equip ourselves with the knowledge to accomplish our goals – great things will happen. For most, the sky has been painted as “the limit” to success. In front of each of us lies an endless continuum of possibilities – as long as we pay attention in school, learn what is presented and “never stop learning” throughout life. I would disagree with this simplistic approach as knowledge alone seems NOT to be the key to anything.
Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Just because someone knows facts, details or information does not make them a leader, a teacher or a success. Individuals chosen to participate on the TV game show Jeopardy demonstrate a vast base of knowledge – an unending ability to recall what many would consider arcane facts and an astounding grasp of history, trivia and culture – BUT do nothing to demonstrate any more success outside of this knowledge-based niche than anyone else. I have met many intelligent individuals who possess all the “book knowledge” available to them yet lack the common sense and practical experience to make a good decision or know which way to turn given the unguided choice. The application of knowledge through wise choices, decisions and actions that anticipate consequences (both planned and unintended) is what truly defines success – particularly if we do not care who gets the credit for the results that are achieved. Knowledge allows us to think about issues, topics and challenges from many different perspectives. Wisdom (the application of knowledge), allows us to succeed by putting knowledge into action.
Not all individuals are “wired” to attend college. Some learn through books – and we need educated teachers, engineers, doctors, managers and other professionals to study, practice and learn so they can lead, teach and create. Others, though, can make a difference by applying the knowledge they attain to situations that do not require a college degree. Trade schools provide knowledge that can be applied within technical careers (manufacturing, tool and die, machinists, carpenters, mechanics and a plethora of other significant occupations that contribute greatly to society). Certificate programs can focus learning to a narrow slice of knowledge that can be directly applied to a defined situation or a specific career. Though our grade schools and high schools equip us with information that is vital and necessary to survive in this world, we must continually stretch our knowledge base throughout life so we can accept new challenges by applying our knowledge wisely to the elimination of roadblocks or the expansion of our responsibilities. When we learn we plant the seeds of prosperity. When we apply our knowledge we are able to see it grow into endless fields of opportunity.
Many have been told that “knowing is believing” when it comes to understanding something or accepting the resolution that has been enacted. Knowing is actually nothing unless it is associated with action, responsibility, accountability and focused follow-through. We can know much without making a difference unless (and until) we put our knowledge into action. We can know much without making a difference unless we take responsibility for our actions – learn from our mistakes – then move on to accomplish our next objective. We can know much without making a difference until we act on our beliefs, assumptions and thoughts so that something can be moved forward rather than being allowed to stagnate.
We should seek knowledge but strive for ways to apply what we learn to better ourselves and those around us. We should establish goals and seek to accomplish them but understand success is not simply the fulfillment of a stated objective having no purpose or meaning. Success is not measured by what we have or what we do but rather by what we are able to accomplish with the gifts we are given and how we can apply the knowledge we attain – how we are able to impact, influence or enlighten others as we demonstrate wisdom through the application of all we know and all we have experienced. It is not elevating, enabling or providing for others – it is fulfilling our own potential as we vacate a “station” in life which another can fill IF they, too, wisely apply their knowledge.
Nothing changes unless and until something changes. When we seek knowledge it should be purposeful – with all learning directed towards the accomplishment of an objective or the realization of a dream. Knowing for the sake of knowing may allow us to win the game of Jeopardy but applying what we know to the accomplishment of everyday problems, issues and situation will allow us to win the game of life.