Thursday, February 4, 2010

Knowing and wisdom

"Knowing enough is enough to know"~ Tao te Ching

"Little did he know. That means there's something he doesn't know, which means there's something you don't know, did you know that?"~ Stranger then Fiction

I have talked a lot of wisdom lately but not about wisdom. To understand the idea of being wise you first have to understand the limits of your own understanding. At the heart of wisdom is being able to accept that there are things you do not know and more over things that you cannot know. In the U.S. we are trained taught and expected to have an opinion on everything whether we have the facts or not. It is almost a sin to say the words "I don't know"

We need to accept the fact that there are things we don't know and limits to what we can know. Admitting this opens doors for personnel growth by showing us areas of study and research for us to explore. It also builds integrity. If we are willing to tell someone "I don't know" they understand intuitively that we are credible on the information we provided. If there is one lesson I took from being an insurance agent it was this. It is better to say admit the lack of knowledge and offer to fallow up with research on the matter then to give bad advice.

At the heart of wisdom I think is an understanding of our place in the world, our knowledge of the world and our knowledge of ourselves. Knowing were the boundary of this understanding lies is just as important as knowing what is within the boundary. When we hide behind veils of false knowledge we blur this line, it is like knowingly stepping out on thin ice. We put ourselves in moral danger, not just because we represent ourselves as something we are not but also because we by in to the lie.

If you are interested in furthering your education then I don't know serves as a guide post showing us places we can explore. The beauty of this is when we fallow the signs of I don't know we are almost always led in to territory that is relevant for us in some fashion. We are here because we encountered the idea in the wild and after that encounter decided it will be beneficial to look at this more closely. In less intellectual matters the sign post points us to times we need to sit down with friends and talk something out, we need other ideas to stimulate our own way of thinking and clarify the haze of indecision.

So in seeking wisdom remember that we need to be aware of the boundaries of our knowledge as well as what we know. We need to be willing to admit that we have limitations and then work to remove them. And we need to know that integrity and honesty are more important than looking knowledgeable and important.

** I would like to mention that this post was inspired by a great post at Why not start now


Patty - Why Not Start Now? said...

Hi Quinn - I love this. And not just because you linked to me. You've really expressed the idea that truth, and wisdom, are relative. As you say, there are multiple boundaries. And I like the metaphor of encountering these ideas in the wild, but respecting that wildness. Wonderful. Thanks.

Patty - Why Not Start Now? said...

p.s. Stranger than fiction is one of my favorite movies, so you had me as soon as I saw that quote.

Quinn said...

Hi Patty I think there are an entire series of posts waiting to be written in Stranger then fiction. it may be an uncertain view of the world but i think most things are relative depending on the context they are set in. A phrase to one person may mean one thing while to another it means something else all together.

Armen Shirvanian said...

Hi Quinn.

You are right about how we need to know what our current knowledge limits are before we can expand on them. Knowing what we don't know is a big step. There are a lot of people who don't know what they don't know, so they are not even close to obtaining the next level of knowledge.

Sometimes, seeing what another person does for 30 minutes can really open our mind as to what kind of potential there is. We have to involve with other people if we want to expand our mind quickly.

Quinn said...

Armen that is true learning from what other people do, both what they do well and the mistakes they make is an important thing to do.

Tess The Bold Life said...

Yes, yes, yes. As a counselor or as a coach I can say, "I don't know,"
easily. Then I'll say, "I look into it and get back to you.

In my 30's I thought I knew everything. Then by mid 40's I got smart and decided I didn't know anything.

Life is exciting when lived with an open mind. And I want an exciting life.

Quinn said...

That is a great thought Tess, life is more exiting when we open our minds and look beyond the little world we have created in our heads.

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