Sep 12, 2020

You Don't Know Everything

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s own ignorance” - Confucius

We’ve all had times in our lives we look back on and think, “Why did I do that?”, or “I’ll never do that again.” Experiences in life make us wiser.

Yet there are some things you’ve never done and would never consider doing because you recognise the consequence it will have on your life, therefore knowledge makes us wiser.

What then do you attribute to things you don’t know or haven’t experienced?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines wisdom as, "Capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgement in the choice of means and ends; sometimes, less strictly, sound sense, esp. in practical affairs."

Not a lot is said on the topic of wisdom. It’s seen as this mystical virtue that is often confused with knowledge.

But there’s a difference.

In a broad sense, knowledge is information. Wisdom is the greater understanding of that information; how it pertains to the rules and ways it is applicable in life. I’ll give you an example:

Knowledge is knowing that the most direct way to fly from Sydney to Amsterdam is a one-stop flight via the Middle East or Asia.

Wisdom is knowing how brutal a thirteen-plus-hour flight is (in Economy) and to break it up by making it a two-stop flight via Asia, only adding a few more hours travel time.

Decisions in life are not always black and white and we often seek guidance from those who either have what we want or have experienced the difficulty we’re faced with.

We all have influencers in our lives, significant people usually being:

  • Family
  • Partner/spouse
  • Friends
  • Colleagues

Throughout life, people will offer you advice, sometimes unasked, unwanted, however, you should be able to discern whether or not they’re coming to you with good intentions.

The problem is many of us are too stubborn or close-minded to not take the advice of others. We blow them off and tell them something along the lines of, “Thanks, but I know what I’m doing.”

I know I have and it’s usually because pride, age or another bias is involved or you’ve achieved a level of status in your life/job/hobby, etc and attribute your success to decisions and actions you’ve made.

You’re competent, are better than others so you think you’ve got it all covered.

That doesn’t mean you’ll always make good decisions. In anything and everything.

How Open-Minded Are You?

Photo by analuisa gamboa on Unsplash

There are two types of individuals – open and close (or narrow) minded.

Open-minded individuals are willing to consider new ideas different from their own.

Traits include:

  • Being open to the possibility they could be wrong
  • Are not angry when there is a disagreement, are open to criticism, seeing it as an opportunity to learn
  • Verify information from a number of sources before making an informed decision
  • Are more interested in listening rather than speaking

Close-minded individuals are those who have a narrow outlook on life, not willing to listen to or consider other ideas or opinions.

Traits include:

  • They prefer to listen to ideas that confirm their own beliefs or opinions
  • Are quick to answer, jump to conclusions, judge or criticise and prove themselves to be right
  • View criticism as a threat, become defensive, and justify their actions or opinions
  • Are presumptuous, opinionated, and see being correct as the winner of an argument

Farnham Street comments, “Before you smugly slap an open-minded sticker on your chest, consider this: closed-minded people would never consider that they could actually be closed-minded. In fact, their perceived open-mindedness is what’s so dangerous.”

We all like to think we’re open-minded, however, there are ways to prove you wrong 🤪, and you may need to reconsider.

Here are a few issues to ponder - abortion, drugs, gun control, same-sex marriage, veganism.

Still think you’re open-minded?

Try this ten-question quiz to find out.

It’s All Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

Photo by Alessio Soggetti on Unsplash

Notice how human civilisation seems to make the same mistakes over and over again?

We’re advancing so fast technologically, yet mistakes made in the history books have a way of cropping up again today (the link will test how open-minded some of you really are 😉).

The thing is, us humans are flawed beings, so it’s understandable.

But it seems, in Western civilisation, it’s a case of in with the new, out with the old.

We favour the glamour of youth over age and wisdom.

How many reality shows have most of their cast over the age of forty? How many people use “whatever” to make them appear more youthful?

You can never really relate to someone older the way they can relate to you. They’ve been your age.

Sure, it might have been in the days before there was the internet (whaaat?), but their problems and concerns were very much similar.

What is old?

Why do we ship our parents off to nursing homes? Why do we not call on the advice or opinion of past leaders once out of office when many other cultures value and respect the knowledge and wisdom that comes from their elders? Because they’re irrelevant?

In his renowned address to college graduates, Steve Jobs said that death is “the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

Whilst that may be true, we should be making the most of the time we have left learning from our elders, and don’t think they have to be of blood.

Nursing homes are full of elderly people who have lived full lives with much wisdom and stories to share.

Do you want to make a difference in this world? Volunteer your time at a nursing home.

This pandemic has affected those people most, and when we’re in the clear, give back to the community; go visit and spend time with someone.

Not only will you learn something, but you’ll truly make someone else’s day.

They were once young and beautiful as you.


“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” - Socrates

The rules and principles for success or any other aspect of life are out there. Knowledge and wisdom are only a Google search away.

But don’t overlook or disregard those in your inner circles of influence as there will be people within who have your best interests at heart.

Be open, grow and learn from them because one day it will be you imparting that wisdom upon another.

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