Knowing more does not always mean understanding more….
I have always been a knowledge seeker.
Most people begin asking why around the age of two, much to my parents annoyance, I never stopped.
Now that I have my own 3 year old of similar mind set, I at least have some sympathy for them.
“Why? Why? Why?”
I have not come to a point in life where I’ve stopped asking why, nor do I anticipate that occurring. But I have come to a point where I understand the risks and challenges involved.
When you ask a 20 year old that has studied history, “What caused the second world war?’ Like a consummate trivial pursuit expert that will spit back:
“World War Two began in September 1939 when Britain and France declared war on Germany following Germany’s invasion of Poland.”
If you ask a 40 year old history professor the same question, he may pause and consider his answer. Review his potential responses and your level of interest. And if the conditions are right launch into a 30 minute presentation on facism, social unrest, idealism, expansionism and a plethora of other details that may begin to scratch the surface of the a war that raged for years and killed over 60 million people.
So what is the right answer? What is the appropriate level of knowledge? Where do you find that you are in fact drawing appropriate conclusions about a situation versus getting lost in the details and minutia?
There is a value in information at one level for drawing conclusions about how something works. Going to the next level will only muddy the waters and may completely remove you from the understanding entirely.
A simple example of this can be seen with any modern mobile phone.
Understanding how to make a phone call relies on a simple understanding of how the buttons operate, and on a modern touch phone which app to launch. Taking knowledge to the next level simply detracts from your understanding. If someone were to ask you to explain to them how to make a phone call and your response began by describing the processor, operating system and advanced touch screen glass, their eyes would glaze over and they would still not know how to make a call.
With this in mind take a moment to consider your life and your knowledge. There is a point where it is possible to draw valuable conclusions and going beyond that point will simply add complexity, but not clarity.
Appreciate what you know and what you can understand from where you are.
Don’t worry about the next level today, if it’s needed, it will come.
Today you know enough and you are enough.