A few days I ago, I touched on how wisdom lies in the ability to ‘see the difference.’ And one of the distinctions to pay attention to, is the difference between what’s important and what’s unimportant.
This is so fundamental and crucial, yet often most easily neglected. As a result, we get caught up with a frenzy of activities that call for our attention, and ended up with being busy without necessarily being effective. I’m often guilty of doing that too, like checking my emails and updating Facebook frequently when I could have channelled those time and energy to writing, blogging or connecting with people whom matter most to me (like you boys).
Also, sometimes, even when we KNOW what’s important, we don’t necessarily DO anything about it. We slack off, and pretend that it’s OK. Take health for instance. Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for health, but few make time to exercise … even if it is as simple as taking a brisk walk or using the staircase instead of the elevator. How absurd?
What gets in the way or causes the gap between knowing and doing? I suspect the culprit is that we don’t actually know enough of the cost of non-doing, because the effect is usually felt or experienced only further down the road. People don’t fall sick because of the lack of exercise for one day. But the prolonged habit of passivity can lead to a decline in the immune system, and makes us more susceptible to fall victim to virus attack.
An Important Reminder
Once you begin to examine carefully the cost of not doing something about what’s important, it will become obvious to you that there is absolutely nothing more important than knowing what’s important and doing something about it.
With that insight in mind, try starting your day by naming the 3 important things that you will attend to that day, and make sure you do something about them all by end of day. I am pretty convinced that developing the discipline of bridging the gap between knowing and doing will bring you some extraordinary success in life.
Your Insightful Dad
I often hear people say, “These days, kids know a lot” or “Kids are very smart.” That raises a few questions for me, such as … Are we (the adults) less knowledgeable or dumber compared to our children? Has the human species evolved so rapidly such that today’s children are so drastically different from yesterday’s?
I doubt so. I attribute it to the ‘information age’ or ‘knowledge-based era’ that we now live in – an exciting time when information is literally at our finger tips (with smart phones, iPad, wi-fi, and internet connection of course). Much of what was once highly priced ‘specialised knowledge’ is now freely available and accessible on the internet. Who needs to buy another how-to book when a Google search can bring up, within seconds, more articles than one could possibly read in a life time?
Perhaps very soon, knowledge will cease to be in demand anymore. What is needed more will be WISDOM. There are those who know a lot, yet remain foolish, and those who know little, but are wise. I urge you to start developing wisdom now … starting with one of my favorites that is featured in the famous Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can;
and WISDOM to know the difference.
~ Reinhold Niebuhr
I get on with life with a lot more ease and peace of mind, with that wisdom alone. And I’m particularly struck by the last line … “wisdom to know the difference.” Could be that the pathway to wisdom, lies in developing the ability to notice the subtle differences that will make a significant impact in our lives?
What might these distinctions be? Here are some to get you thinking …
- What we can control vs. What we can’t control
- What we need vs. What we want
- What is important vs. What is unimportant
- What is morally right vs. What is ethically wrong
- What is factual vs. What is fictional (fabricated by our interpretation and imaginations)
- What is undeniably true vs. What is seemingly true (but unvalidated)
- What is essential vs. What is superficial
- What is helping or enabling vs. what is hindering or limiting
The list goes on … now, what is the one new ‘wisdom’ that you will develop today that will make a difference in your life? Tell me, for I’d love to benefit from it too.
Your Wise Dad