Monday, April 30, 2007

Curious about Knowledge: Is It Power? Or Is It Holding You Back?

Knowledge is power.” - Francis Bacon, English philosopher

Knowledge is that possession that no misfortune can destroy, no authority can revoke, and no enemy can control. This makes knowledge the greatest of all freedoms.” - Bryant H. McGill, American poet

I was brought up to embrace and believe the preceding quotations. My father, and greatest mentor, often reminded me that he wouldn’t be leaving me a huge amount of money. Instead, he put me through a topnotch college, because no one can “take away your education.”

That’s why when I started reading Larry Winget’s book, Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life, I was a bit taken aback when he started attacking the “myth” that “knowledge is power.” He does have many other “myths” that he lists in this rather confrontational book. In his defense, Winget warns the reader upfront that he will be an irritant and will probably make us angry.

He hasn’t made me angry. He has made me think! And, a lot of what he writes make sense. His basic premise is that, “What you think about, talk about, and do something about is what comes about.” Start with thoughts translated into beliefs and coupled with actions will produce the results we want.

Back to “knowledge.” I love amassing it, but, thinking about it, I realize that I can easily be buried by all of the information available today. I can, and often do, spend valuable time reading about Internet marketing, blogs, websites, podcasts, teleseminars, sales, copywriting, videos, traffic, and on and on. Yes, Winget is right. My fascination with knowledge is taking me away from the actions I should be doing to get where I want to, because it is spreading me in too many directions.

How about you? Are you so tempted by “knowledge” that it is robbing you of your powerful actions?

I found a huge number of “knowledge” quotations, so will share a few with you:
  • An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” - Benjamin Franklin, American politician
  • Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.” - Samuel Johnson, English author
  • The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.” - Henry Ford, American businessman
  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.” - Albert Einstein, German physicist
  • To maximize our potential to enhance our health and our knowledge, we should remain open to new understanding and evolving technology or resources that might inspire a change in our approach to these important questions.” - Samuel Wilson, American public servant

Some quotations with a different twist:

  • To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” - Marilyn vos Savant, American writer
  • Intelligence, rather than knowledge, is the aim.” - Stephen Gardiner, English clergyman
  • Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous.” - Plato, Greek philosopher
  • Knowledge is what we get when an observer, preferably a scientifically trained observer, provides us with a copy of reality that we can all recognize.” - Christopher Lasch, American historian
  • Knowledge slowly builds up what Ignorance in an hour pulls down.” - George Eliot, British author
  • I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death. - Robert Fulghum, American author

And here are the quotations to tide you over until next week - and do read Winget’s book!

  • Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.” - E. F. Schumacher, English economist
  • To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” - Confucius, Chinese philosopher

And, finally:

Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give luster, and many more people see than weigh.” - Lord Chesterfield, British statesman