Recently, I saw a TED talk about acquiring wisdom instead of knowledge only. Why should you care and how do you make the leap? Let’s dive into this one the ExperienceZone way.

Putting things into context

Everyday our senses are being swamped by piles of data. Our brain does a remarkable job to contextualize and thus transforms data points into information. A price tag paired with a bottle of water triggers our decision about whether to buy it or not. Actually marketing is a corporate function designed for the very purpose to make data relevant and thus generate explicit purchasing decisions in our minds. Best case, it speaks to our hearts instead to our brain only, since especially complex decisions are usually not taken rationally but intuitively. To this end, the add needs to be relevant to our lives (yeah, water vitalizes) plus helps us to understand why that is (well, approx. 70% of our body is actually water) – ideally on an emotional level. As we increasingly relate this the marketeers want us to get hooked up with and understand its additional value proposition (the founders might be up to save the entire rain forest), we evolve our minds from receiving information to being knowledgeable about this company, its mission and resulting products. Knowledge is acknowledging a pattern behind naked information. Furthermore, knowledge requires and generates a certain level of understanding and relation to a particular subject. So far the job of the marketing guys…

Knowledge without application is useless

In the last decade I read around one hundred books. Did the cheer act of inhaling words put into fancy sentences make me any smarter? In no way, shape or form. Well, it certainly helped me to express myself in a specific way nowadays but doesn’t improve my life a tiny bit. In contrast: Book knowledge is a tricky thing. It tends to make you presumptuous. I can tell you in a thousand words how honey tastes, yet it only becomes relevant once you taste it. This is my plea for action. Only once you leverage the stuff you’ve read to help yourself, others or our planet, it turns into value. Until then it’s unused potential. Raw material, which lacks an acid test. Latter turns knowledge into wisdom through application. You try. You fail. You learn. You improve.

How to turn knowledge into wisdom

Some argue wisdom is understanding the principles behind knowledge. I’m going further: Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge – in both ways, failing and succeeding. Failed attempts are actually often a necessary prerequisite for success. No one learned to ride a bike without falling at least onece. No one learned to play the piano without hitting the wrong keys. Thomas Edison admitted to have failed many times until he invented the light bulb. So, how do you evolve to a wise person (unrelated to your physical age)?

  1. Read and watch: There’re two ways to absorb new knowledge. The first one is reading. I highly recommend you to read as much as possible, yet allow time to contemplate and execute thereafter. Read about divers topics. It makes you a well rounded person. Yet do only read stuff you feel naturally drawn to. This increases the chances that you make it through the article or book. After you read, take some time. Either close your eyes, go for a walk or talk with others about what you read. All of these habits ensure that you properly digest the mind food. Then think about how you can put the stuff you’ve read into practice. By the way: Another highly effective way to learn is through imitation. Watch others failing or succeeding. It helps you to build up on their experiences.
  2. Execute upon it: A strategy is nothing without execution. A decision is a choice plus a plan. Innovation equals creativity plus action. In fact, ideas are worthless without trying them out. Effective execution based on a clear intention is one of the most powerful gifts human beings have been granted. Hence I invite you to try things. The only thing preventing you from achieving your aims in life and pursuing your mission is fear. Smart people say fear is the abbreviation of false expectations appearing real. In terms of future states, this is true. So, we need to shake off irrational fears and jump in to the cold dark unknown.
  3. There’re no mistakes: There’s only feedback. I like this one, as it puts things into perspective by pointing out that every expression of reality is subjective. Reality only exists because a subject observes it. Your reality is watched and thus judged by yourself only. Therefore, the meaning you give to events in your life is of utmost importance. If you see every hardship as an opportunity for growth it will unfold as such and deliver long term reward. Only repeating the same behavior although it didn’t bring the desired results can be considered as stupid or insane, as Einstein put it.