A lot of people are impressed by experts: people who somehow seem to know everything about something in particular.
But I remember my mom nurturing a cynical streak in me from an early age when, in response to my over-awed reaction to a confident young classmate, she told me to remember that “anyone who says they know everything really knows nothing. Because EVERYONE knows that no-one knows everything”. Now this may not be the catchiest nugget of wisdom ever, but it introduced me to two key ideas at an early age:
- Perhaps the real clever clogs aren’t necessarily those who proclaim their expertise.
- If you want to know a lot about something, there’s probably a lot you have to not know about something else. (Bear with me – it gets more concrete.)
There was a great article by John Cloud in Time Magazine last week which reminded me in a roundabout way of the wisdom of my Irish mammy. The writer argued convincingly that experience is not a predictor of performance. Gen Y proponents may well see this as fuel for the fire burning in their bellies, but I think there’s a lot more that can be pulled from of the ideas in this article. [Read more…]