Are you constantly on the alert for the “next big thing” or “one more thing?”
Do you have thousands of names in your data base?
Is your bookshelf brimming with the latest books from your chosen field?
Do you pride yourself on reading all the reports that appear in your inbox?
Are you exhaustive in your search for data?
Do you attend every workshop that comes to town?
If so, you may be more of a collector than a converter.
You may be overflowing with data and knowledge. Too full to digest it all. To spot the patterns. To convert your knowledge into action.
Action turns knowledge into wisdom. It makes learning subjective. It honours experience. But you need space and time to sift and savour. And to listen to your soul.
Wisdom is not the accumulation of knowledge. To paraphrase the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, “For knowledge add, for wisdom take away.”
It’s only possible to engage authentically with a few good ideas, a handful of groups and four or five variables at any one time.
Of course being a collector doesn’t preclude action. But it can dull your effectiveness if you are immersed in too much detail and volume. There is only so much room in the mind, so much energy in the body and so much moral oxygen in the soul.
Sometimes one book written thirty years ago will provide more than enough guidance.
Sometimes one poem will stop you in your tracks long enough to spot a path through the clutter and debris.
Sometimes one faded report is enough to inspire you to act.
Sometimes one true relationship is sufficient to remind you of what you already know.
What to do with your collection?
Store it in your basement. It’ll be there if you need it. Don’t be surprised if you seldom go downstairs.
I don’t think that we really think any thoughts; we think connections between thoughts. That’s where the mind moves, that’s what’s new, and the thoughts themselves have probably been there in my head or lots of other people’s heads for a long time. (Anne Carson)