How would you answer the question: What’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom? Here’s an illustration that answers the question nicely: Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad!

Our brains are a knowledge bank of information accumulated over the years. We may believe it to be true. But is it? How certain are you that everything you know is the actual truth?

When I’m with my clients, I ask them: What do you know to be true? By listening to their answers, I can also hear where their bias may be.

When we need to apply knowledge, to be efficient, our brains filter out what is not relevant. The problem arises when that filtering process is affected by unconscious bias. We all have unconscious bias. Our likes and dislikes, different cultures, backgrounds and experiences, make up our biases, whether consciously or unconsciously. It is useful to know what your preferences are and apply that to discern what is true.

What is Opinion and What is Data?

To figure out what is true, carry out a fact check to discover whether the information comes from someone’s opinion or whether it is valid data. Where do you source your evidence? Do you take the word of someone you trust as the truth? Or do you find external evidence to fact check what you’ve heard? We’ll delve into fact checking in the next musings – “F is for Facts”.

You only need look at social media to see often opinions are shared as if they are the truth. You may have seen people telling “my truth”, which is often their perceived version of events rather than an objective factual account. Our job is to figure out what is really is true and what is fiction. To do that, we need reliable sources of evidence.

Learned or Experienced?

Gaining knowledge initially raises more questions than it answers. Not that asking questions is a bad thing, of course. Far from it, as I explained in my last blog, Q is for Questions.

The first question to ask yourself is about where your knowledge comes from. How much knowledge is information you’ve learned over time? How much of it was gained through experiences you’ve accumulated? When you’re explaining to someone and looking for corroboration, consider these three types of evidence:

  • Anecdotal – a shared testimony of the person’s experience
  • Empirical – factual information: written, published evidence, from verified reliable sources
  • Experiential – your own lived, first-hand experience

Gathering all three of these provides you with excellent evidence to share alongside your knowledge, backing it up.

A word of caution about relying on your own perception. It’s useful to remember that we experience the world through our own unique lens. Our brains are being efficient by deleting irrelevant information (as I mentioned earlier) and also by generalising (to group similar experiences together) and by distorting what we perceive based on our preconceived expectations. The filtering fills in gaps and extrapolates from assumptions. It’s the reason that the police will seek as many witnesses to an incident as possible. They are seeking the corroborating details amongst the individual perceptions of what happened.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Knowledge gives us a sense of security. When you know something, you can predict with a degree of certainty what may happen. A little bit of knowledge, however, can give a false sense of security, or make us believe we’re more capable than we really are.

Gaining some knowledge moves us from a state of unconscious incompetence to a realisation of how much we don’t know – conscious incompetence. As we learn and experience more, we move into conscious competence. Eventually, as we build our expertise and the learning becomes second nature, we move into unconscious competence.

On a recent enquiry call, the person asked about something they wanted to address. They had a little bit of knowledge about it. During our conversation, as we put the situation into a broader context, the person realised that they had more to discover. They couldn’t make a decision on that one element until they’d considered other elements, too.

Our conversation helped them realise that it wasn’t right to base a decision on just one thing; they needed to address other peripheral matters. This highlights how useful coaching sessions are. Because it’s not just about having knowledge, it’s about knowing how to apply your knowledge wisely.

Have you got all the information you need in order to apply your knowledge appropriately? That’s where you move from being knowledgeable to being wise. True wisdom is knowing what to do with that knowledge.

Gaining Wisdom

There are some lucky young people in this world who seem to naturally have what we colloquially call: an old head on young shoulders; someone who is wise beyond their years. Usually, wisdom comes from experience, which in turn comes with age. The longer we’ve been around, the more experience we have.

I may no longer be considered a young person and neither am I that old. I do, though, have the benefit of experience. With Wild Empowerment being over 14 years old, in that time I’ve gained the wisdom of where to apply the knowledge.

Coaching isn’t just about asking questions – it’s knowing which questions to ask when. That comes with experience. All the experience I have under my belt now benefits my clients, aiding them in their quest for wisdom and success. I can guide you towards your own inner wisdom.

That’s why working with a coach can be a complete game-changer.

You could just read a book, watch TED talks and YouTube videos. You’ll gain knowledge from those sources. What you can’t do is question how to apply that knowledge to your specific situation, whereas you can when you’re with a coach or mentor, allowing you both to ask: Now that you’ve gained that information? How will you apply it?

The wisdom comes from those “so what?” questions, helping you to explore how to apply your knowledge in the best way. Coaching helps you to recognise what’s true and real versus opinion.

How to Apply Your Knowledge and Make it Work!

Are there areas in your life where you think you’re doing the right thing and yet you’re not getting the results you want?

Then you may well benefit from one of my 3 Rs sessions. In them, we will Review, Reset and Redirect. The Review part explores what’s working for you and what isn’t. From that, we can look at Resetting your goals and intentions. Then we can Redirect your action plan for you to bear fruit before the end of the year.

If your circumstances have changed and things are different, the 3 Rs will get you back on track, helping you to make sure your 2023 is on course for success.