Albert Einstein once said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it”. In a world that is fast changing, we are facing life with increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. For us to continually thrive and excel, we need to know and understand how best to respond despite the current times and situation.
I believe that our thought process of any issue is not completed until we have wisdom of that matter; which can be rearticulated as knowledge understood which is fully applied.
You see, wisdom is very much like a 3-step ladder. Each rung of the ladder corresponds to a common English word – knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Some may view them as of similar meaning although I beg to differ. In fact, wisdom is knowledge that is understood and applied. After all, Knowledge is Information, Understanding is Comprehension and Wisdom is Application; and that is why application is supreme. Because we can know something and not understand it. We can understand something but not apply it.
So the starting point of wisdom is gathering of knowledge and basic facts. The next step is to ensure that you have the skills and capacity to understand that knowledge. This is the where we translate meaning from the facts gathered. And finally, you need to garner the courage to apply it in practical life. In other words, it is not just good enough to know what to do next, given an understanding of the facts but to also have the fortitude to carry it through effectively.
The following tale may show help you visualize the differences between the three terms:
Knowledge Understanding Wisdom
Facts Meaning What to Do Next
Information Principles Application
Memory Reason Action
Scholars Teachers Practitioners
Charles Spurgeon once wrote; “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are the greatest fools of all. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”