On Monday, March 21 Categories:

One of the famous stories about the philosopher Socrates is when one of his close friends traveled to the Oracle at Delphi and inquired whom was the wisest person in Athens. The Oracle replied that Socrates was the wisest person in Athens. Socrates refused to believe this, because the result of all his philosophical inquiry had pointed out his own ignorance. Socrates proceeded to speak with the best & brightest people in Athens to prove his ignorance, but made a startling discovery on accident. Although the people he met with were all very intelligent, none of them were fully aware of that which they did not yet know as demonstrated by a willingness to speak decisively about topics which they possessed no real knowledge of. Thus, Socrates was in fact the wisest person in Athens... not because of his great intelligence, but because he was actually aware of his ignorance.

In a similar fashion, there are many intelligent people who go through life in total ignorance of that which they do not know. This tends to create an artificial sense of confidence from the feeling of "knowing everything." (Typically, teen aged individuals suffer from this malady with the greatest frequency) The unfortunate irony of this situation is that it closes people off to the vast sea of knowledge that is available.

The twist of irony comes when a person who had previously been vastly confident in their knowledge "gets it" and becomes aware of how small their knowledge and wisdom really are in relation to everything else that is out there. Thus, it is very true that many of the wisest people are not necessarily the ones that proclaim their wisdom the most loudly. The wisest among us are often those that are actually aware of their relative ignorance and are constantly seeking to learn everything they can from every situation in life. The critical question for each of us to ask ourselves is whether we are actively seeking to learn from everybody or whether we stand confidently closed to anything that stands contrary to what we "know?"

The importance of this insight comes from the fact that we cannot hope to continue growing and developing until we humble ourselves to learn. This necessarily involves understand our own ignorance. In the end, each person is responsible for building their own library of knowledge and insights. It is critically important to ensure that our library does not become closed to new knowledge by our own arrogance.

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Sincere Thanks,
Douglas J Utberg, MBA

Founder - Business of Life LLC: http://BusinessOfLifeLLC.com/

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