I wish I knew who said this the first time. It’s a great goal and someone should get credit. Maybe some day I’ll be remembered for something equally pithy. For today, I’m just going to use it as inspiration.
I have included two photos with this post. For the sake of argument let’s suppose the young man represents “less knowledge” and that older gentleman is supposed to represent “more wisdom.” I have personal experience with both of these guys so you’ll just have to trust me on this premise.
The younger one is about twenty years old. He’s on his way to a college degree, barely. He’s bright enough to make good grades but not very motivated to try. He’s pretty self-confident but his greatest accomplishment thus far is winning a horseshoes tournament. He thinks he’s knowledgeable and worldly because he’s always attended good schools. He’s popular with the opposite sex but clueless when it comes to relationships. He’s a hard worker but only when he has to be. He reads but not for fun. His world is a college town where anything goes as long as he doesn’t break any laws. Wisdom is not his best thing.
The older one is about sixty. He’s been around the block more times than he can count. He’s earned every one of those gray hairs the hard way. He’s highly motivated to try anything even if he never makes the grade. He’s more humble than confident because he knows better. His 25 years of business ownership speaks for itself. He is knowledgeable and worldly in spite of his schooling. He finally found the right girl but he’s still pretty clueless about women. He’s on call 24/7 and he never misses a chance to help. He reads and writes for fun. His world is the universe where anything goes that doesn’t break the laws of physics. Wisdom is his only thing.
So here we have two unique individuals who couldn’t be more different. One is confident for no good reason and the other is circumspect for very good reasons. One knows just enough to be dangerous and the other knows too much to take risks. One works because he has to and the other works because he wants to. One knows no limits and the other knows his. One is wise and one is otherwise.
Ready to guess? It’s me, of course. That young man eventually became that old man. He grew up, got married, raised a family, ran a successful business and then finally got a little wiser. As I approach my 60th birthday this month, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my youth. Boy, was I clueless or what? I got by on looks and a fun-loving personality. I had no idea what life was really about. Ignorance was absolute bliss. It was great and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Maturity or wisdom or common sense, or whatever we choose to call it, is worth the price but there’s only one way to get it. We have to experience it. Reading a book or listening to a lecture barely scratches the surface of real understanding. I was never a great college student. I didn’t learn how to learn till after my Dad sat me down and explained it to me. All he said was, “You’re going to spend the rest of your life learning new things, college will help you learn how to learn.” I think it was at that very moment that I grasped the most important concept of all, listen to those who know more than you do.
The best part about being older and wiser? Now I get to do the talking and the rest of you will listen. I think the grey beard and wrinkles really help with my credibility and respect. No one doubts my experience and young people actually ask for my help. I met a young Asian guy in the supermarket last week and he wanted my advice on how to cook steaks on the grill. I was thrilled to share my secrets. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him he picked the wrong kind of meat but at least they tasted okay with my help. (Tip of the day – big steaks aren’t always good steaks.)
I’m not sure I’m ready for sage status yet but another ten years should get me there. Am I wiser than most? Maybe but that’s not really my goal. I don’t measure myself against others. My only competition is with myself. I don’t ever want to feel secure or self-satisfied or accomplished. What would I do the next day? I want to be open for new business every day of my life. The truth is I know, positively, far less than I ever did. Every bit of information I possess just leads me to a hundred more questions. On the other hand, the ability to apply my knowledge, wisdom if you will, is plentiful and worth every ounce of sweat it took me to get it. Let me leave you with one great Japanese saying, “Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on an ass’s back.” That was me, forty years ago.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.