What Do You Do with Your Knowledge?

There are two areas where I don’t do a very good job: 1) giving directions and 2) receiving directions.

On that first area of inadequate skill, let’s say someone stops to ask me, “Do you know where such and such is?” My secret inside response is, “Can’t you find somebody better to ask?” My outside response is to stammer through a few suggestions that hopefully will be useful or at least not lead anyone astray.

On the other hand, let’s say someone were to give me forewarning: “I will meet you at this corner in two days and ask you how to get to such and such.” I could have my answer ready. I think I could do quite well with two days’ warning. Just don’t ask me this question on the spot.

Therefore, I offer these two recommendations for your magnificent journey. First, it’s easier to travel through life when you’re prepared. This would include having skills and knowledge, a bit of cash, and perhaps a destination in mind. In addition, having a spiritual foundation will help undergird your journey whether you are moving forward, going backward or standing still.

Second, trust yourself. You probably know a lot more than you realize.

There is a concept called “the curse of knowledge.” This is when people have gained a LOT of information over the course of their lives and careers – and they think this kind of information is instinctive and widely known. As in: “This is easy for me, so it should be easy for you.” Or “This is so easy for me I have no awareness that it is not easy for you.”

Whether you actually have a curse of knowledge, I suppose that depends on what you know. For example, if you are an expert at tying your shoes, there really are a lot of people who know how to tie shoes, so maybe that’s not so much of a curse.

However, if you’re Albert Einstein, and you see a guy drop his keys as he is walking away from a park bench, it wouldn’t necessarily be helpful to explain to him the relation of gravity to the theory of relativity. Instead, you’d speak to him at this level: “You might not be aware of this, but you just dropped your keys.” Because that’s actually what he needs to know. And just think how grateful he would be to get this input. Very helpful indeed.

You have many areas too – or definitely one or two – where your insights and abilities could be quite useful to others. The point is, trust that you have something valuable to share with someone else. And don’t discount what you know just because it’s easy for you.

Now, on to my other area of shortcoming – receiving directions. The reason I might go wayward here could be because I place confidence in my “hearing” better than my “remembering” warrants. Take two rights and a left, right? Got it. But then I walk away, and go … “Wait, did he say take the second right, then a left? Or was that two lefts and a right?”

You know how it goes. Our minds are filled with all sorts of details – and the more years we add to those minds, the more details we accumulate. But also, there are a great many distractions afoot. Or in your hand – AKA a digital device. It’s hard to pay attention.

So the thing to do there is: 1) listen carefully. Give your undivided attention to what you are being told. And 2) write it down.

Maybe you don’t need to ask for navigational directions anymore, now that your smartphone can tell you where to go. But we all still have plenty of instructions to receive. And our confidence in our hearing may not be as good as our remembering warrants.

I was with family members one time, and someone needed to make a note – to record an instruction or direction of some kind. So I pulled a notebook and pen out of my purse and said, “Here.” My niece Natalie said, “I like how you always have a notebook and pen in your purse, Min Min [which is what she calls me].” It hadn’t occurred to me that this would be a distinction of mine, but it’s nice to be recognized for a unique attribute.

If I have a random thought, I feel the need to write it down. I hate to lose these thoughts that occur at odd times. Thus, I end up with lots of stray pieces of paper – backs of envelopes, deposit slips or grocery store receipts that have notes I didn’t want to forget. My little note treasures.

Which reminds me – when Natalie was little, she used to play with something she called, “My important papers.” This was near a desk where her mother kept something she called, guess what, “my important papers.” In that phrase, you can hear the rest of the story, “No, no, Natalie, don’t play with that. These are my important papers.”

So, “my important papers” became a big thing in her little mind, and she created her own to play with. And that is what I am saying. We all have important thoughts – things other people need to know. Shaping that message into a newsletter might not be as easy for you as it is for me. Yet you still share these insights in your words and deeds – which is a good thing indeed.

Isn’t it nice to know that you are making a difference in the world? Because you are. I just wanted to remind you in case you forgot.

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 16