Knowledge is Not Wisdom


"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad." - Miles Kington

I have to admit, the first time I saw this quote, I burst into laughter. I thought it was a silly joke. But then it got me thinking…


We Seek Knowledge

We spend most of our days consuming information. You might not think that watching TV is knowledge, but it is.

Reading books is a way to gain knowledge.

Listening to podcasts is a way to gain knowledge.

Browsing the internet is a way to gain knowledge.

Even tough some may argue that one medium is better than others - I tend to gravitate that reading books is best - but all works, nonetheless.

In the good old days, people read the newspapers and listen to the radio. Compare to the present day, we are ridiculed for over engaging our phones. That said, is knowledge really what we should be striving for?


We Don’t Gain Much Wisdom

Knowledge is knowing a bunch of stuff. Wisdom is the ability to retain and implement knowledge through practical applications.

A friend of mine is very knowledgeable about writing. He said, “To be a good writer, you should write everyday.”

Yet, he never writes and clearly doesn’t follow his own advice. I would consider this friend somewhat knowledgeable, but not wise.

The bottom line - knowledge is easy. Wisdom takes time, effort, patience, persistence, and constant self-awareness. And punctuated by failure, consolidation, and renewed effort - usually made by a different person than who first walked through the door. We change in order to become, and we are changed through that becoming. That is why only the few are truly wise.

Knowledge is just the easy way out. After all, would it be easier to read about meditations or actually implementing the practice daily?


Knowledge to Wisdom

There are plenty of ways to turn knowledge into wisdom:

- Read a book about health and fitness, then start working out.

- Watch a cooking show, then go create a masterpiece in the kitchen.

- Listen to a productivity podcast, then actually implement it.

As the Nike slogan insists, "Just Do It,"  the easiest way to become wiser is to do. And that means doing things without wasting time or energy worrying whether we feel like it.

Failure is indeed inevitable. It's the cost of admission to wisdom and success that follows. But it’s always fulfilling when someone asks me, "Hey Will, did you know…" And I’ll respond with, "Yes, I fucking tried it!"