I just returned from an amazing trip to San Francisco. Though the purpose of the trip was to spend time with future teammates, contribute to the conversation regarding public-private partnership in non-traditional sectors, and begin preparing for our move west, I had the pleasure of seeing long-time friends, celebrating my Dad’s birthday with my parents, and observing life in the city. I am exhausted! The fact that I was constantly on the go was enough to make me sleep the entire flight home, but the real fatigue resulted from continually contemplating the world around me.

Anytime this suburbanite spends time in a city, I am reminded of and amazed by the pace of change in the world around us. One of the speakers at the conference I attended captured this thought very nicely when he pointed out that we live in a world where our children are going to school to prepare for jobs that don’t yet exist, where they will use tools that have yet to be invented, and where they will be asked to solve problems we have yet to imagine. This is largely a technology driven challenge and this quest for the next is taking a toll on all of us who aspire to be contributing citizens in the world of tomorrow.

Faster! Better! More!

I say, “Stop! Observe! THINK!”

It’s no secret that the amount of data at our disposal continues to grow exponentially. A fair amount of that data is turned into information and yet we often fall short in turning that information into knowledge. Knowledge differs from information in that there is an increased level of familiarity, awareness, or understanding acquired through experience or education. One of our challenges as a society right now is that we lack the patience necessary to synthesize information into true knowledge, let alone wisdom. And by patience, I don’t mean the absence of speed, but a carving out of time to reflect and think about the information presented to us, to personally own our opinions, and to care enough to honestly consider alternative perspectives instead of dismissing them by default.

We live in an increasingly networked world: computer networks, social networks, security networks, financial networks, and so on. Interconnectivity all but ensures ideas and opinions spread quickly. And the speed at which they spread when compared to just five years ago is mind blowing. That speed has outpaced our ability to make timely, informed decisions and rather than slow down so that our decisions (or opinions) are in fact based on knowledge, many of us have stopped thinking for ourselves. (Or, have we stopped thinking altogether?) After all, turning information into knowledge is time-consuming. We would rather make a decision or share our opinions quickly, often without the benefit of knowledge. You can see this on your favorite “news” forum or from your friends who comment on articles across the social medium without even clicking on the link, let alone reading it. Opinions (not facts, not knowledge, and not wisdom) are the basis for the decisions many are making.

Our race to participate in the conversation is undermining it. Our unwillingness to truly consider alternative worldviews before making a decision or passing judgment is fracturing our society. And our inability to exhibit any patience after witnessing a course change before we call it a failure is impeding progress. The world around us is very different than it was just a few short years ago and it will be even more difficult to navigate five years from now. Without patience, an open mind, and a shared commitment to truly understanding it we are doomed.

It’s not about being right, but about doing right. And yes, doing right is subjective depending on the worldview we choose to adopt. Before we act we must believe we are doing right. And our belief must be informed by deliberate, individual, and critical thought. Thought that results in knowledge. And the knowledge that ultimately transcends into wisdom. Slow down…think…then decide!

  • Are your opinions truly informed?
  • Do you care enough to consider alternative perspectives?
  • How are you preparing yourself, your family, and your team for tomorrow?