This is the fourth in my “Rules to Live By” series. Like every other professional, in every other field, over the years I’ve picked up a lot of things that make my life easier, or better, both professionally and personally. Most of these things can be summarized in a sentence or two, and I’ve decided to call them “Rules to Live By”. As much as any other reason, they are here to remind myself of things that I’ve decided to believe in, even if I don’t feel like it one day.
Smart is sometimes stored in silos.
I was sitting at the keyboard and realized that I wasn’t sure how to spell a certain word I wanted to use. It’s a common enough word, and I’ve said it many times, but I don’t know that I’ve ever written it. When I started to think about it, I thought of a number of other similar words – words I should know how to spell, but am not sure I can.
To be honest, it made me feel stupid.
I know I am not a stupid person. I work in a technical field (writing software) and have a degree in Applied Mathematics. I am a successful professional. I run a small business outside of my day job. I manage a large community organization. None of these things makes me special, but they at least make me “not stupid”.
This led me to a series of obvious observations:
- I don’t know everything.
- I don’t know a little bit about everything.
- I don’t even know a little bit about many things (in the grand scheme of all things that are things and all knowledge that is to be known).
- I know a little about a few things.
- I know a lot about even fewer things.
My knowledge is stored is silos. (I know. It’s a breakthrough, right?)
But remember from above, none of these things makes me special. Hence:
- You don’t know everything.
- You don’t know a little bit about everything.
- You don’t even know a little bit about many things (in the grand scheme of all things that are things and all knowledge that is to be known).
- You know a little about a few things.
- You know a lot about even fewer things.
- My things may or may not be the same as your things.
Give special attention to #6 here. Again, this isn’t rocket science, but it leads me to this three-part corollary:
- I know things you don’t know.
- You know things I don’t know.
- Neither of us is stupid because of this.
At various times in my past, I’ve mentally dismissed someone as stupid because of a gap between our silos of knowledge. It’s not fair to either of us. I may act differently, even offensively, toward them and I may never learn from them what knowledge they do have in their silo. How might things be different if I shared what was in my silo?
This is obvious, I know. It’s not some big secret that I’ve revealed. It’s just something to think about that I wasn’t thinking about.
By the way, the word was “therapeutic” – that crazy “eu” combination is a killer for me.