We are taught that the more you know, the more successful you will be. With this in mind, we try to gather as much information as we can. We are taught that we need to learn to name the fifty states or learn how to spell “onomatopoeia.” (And yes, I had to look that one up.) We are under the impression that we have to become encyclopedias of information if we want to be successful, but this simply is not true. That’s not to say that it doesn’t help to know lots of information, but there is something even more important!!!
“Connect the dots, la la la la. Connect the dots…”
In my best Pee Wee Herman voice, “Connect the dots…” is the way to go. Yes, it is good to know lots of information, but the true value is in being able to connect the dots between things…to understand how things tie together. Do you believe it is better to be able to label someone as depressed, or try to understand their depression and truly help? By understanding how things are interconnected, how they work, and what they mean, you can truly be more helpful than simply identifying something and sounding smart. Identification can be key, but to truly fix something or help, we must understand and connect the dots!!!
The Jeopardy Game Show
Who doesn’t want to impress their friends or family by sitting down and being able to roll off the answers to questions as quickly as Alex Trebeck can spit them out? We all want to look and be smart, so who can blame ya? As I have said, knowing information is good, but trying to impress people with what you know is more for your ego than it is for the betterment of man. Now, I am not putting down the people on Jeopardy nor am I saying that really smart people are like robots with no hearts. I am simply saying that the goal should not be to become an encyclopedia of information, but to try to understand as much information as we can.
How Can I Understand Things Better???
Okay, so I say we should try to understand things better, but how can we do that? There are a number of ways. Sure, we can read books to better understand how things work. I can read a book about electricity so I can sound smart talking about current versus amperage and a 110 versus a 220 line, but really understanding how that can affect my life and the lives of others is key. If you want to understand things better, one of the best ways is from the experience of others. Learn from other people as much as you can. Listen to your grandparents, your mother, your father, or anyone who is older than you. They have a lifetime of success and failures across their lives. What better way to understand things than through the success and failures of others?
Read the autobiographies of people you want to learn from. There are some very smart men and women who have dumped their life experiences into books from which we can learn. They share with us what has worked for them, what hasn’t worked, and what they learned along the way. It is hard to put a price on the experience of others. Think about some people you want to be like or learn from and go out and get their autobiography today. There are pages of wisdom, sitting there, waiting to be consumed. How hungry are you?
It is good to know lots of information, but the goal is to understand as much as we can. We don’t need to know how to spell every word in the English language, or even know several languages. We need to know just enough information to be able to understand things and connect the dots between them. Sure you can learn as much as you want. Fill your head with information that can make you smarter, but ideally you want to understand as many things as you can if you want to truly make an impact in this life.
This reminds me of a quote I read each day,
“Learn to express, not impress when talking to people.”
When you can express your feelings and what you know, people will be more receptive to what you have to say. If you are simply throwing out statistics or facts to sound smart, I am afraid you have missed the true value of knowledge. Take what you know and learn how to connect those dots!!!