The Most Important Thing to Avoid with Knowledge

Are You Consumed By Information Consumption?

I have yet to meet a parent that calls their infant or toddler dumb. “Look at those bright eyes! Look at the way she focuses! I don’t know if it’s just me but he seems smarter than the other kids.” Academically-minded parents will push their kids to learn more, study harder, keep their grades up.

All this is fine for taking tests and advancing to the next grade or next stage in schooling but what sort of habits are kids and teenagers really picking up along the way? When I was in school, there was a lot of cramming and last minute studying going on just to make sure I was prepared for a test or exam, but after it was done, it would be a rare occasion that I would revisit that information again.

This way of utilizing information, like buying a really expensive chef’s knife, cutting a tomato in half and then throwing the knife away, is wasteful and inefficient. It sounds silly doesn’t it? For anyone that prepares food, that would be ludicrous to throw away a tool after using it just once. Yet, this is what happens in schools across the country, and around the world. Instead of treating precious knowledge and information this way, here are a few things to avoid so that you can really make the most of what you learn.

Plan on Using What You Learn

It’s a great feeling when you are learning something and everything clicks into place. You start understanding how the concepts connect and the lightbulb goes off in your head. It’s a great feeling! However, if there’s never a plan for how to use this information other than trying to pass a test, or just for the sake of having this information, then that’s all it ever becomes; some new piece of information that you have and a positive feeling of getting that information.

When I was younger I used to collect Basketball cards and the thrill of opening a new pack of cards was the most satisfying feeling. The sound of the foil ripping, the smell of fresh basketball cards and the anticipation of going through the pack hoping you get some desirable rookie card or special edition card. After opening the pack and sifting through the cards, they would just go into a box, never to be looked at again.

Learning something, gathering information, gaining wisdom, is one of the greatest abilities that we have. It allows us to adapt and master our environment. However, if we are just gathering information for the sake of gathering information with no intention of using that information, then it doesn’t make us better or more skilled than any other life form that has the capacity to learn.

Stop Being an Information Hoarder

I remember entering fifth grade and my dad told me to make sure I sit in front of the class and always raise my hand to answer questions. Before long, I found that less and less of my classmates wanted to play and hang out and I started to be known as a teacher’s pet. I didn’t know what the term meant at the time but when I found out, it was pretty devastating to know that people didn’t like me because i wanted to show the teacher what I knew.

That didn’t stop me from wanting to know more but it did make me very aware of what sort of impression I was making and how I was being perceived by others. I found myself still thirsting for knowledge and wanting to learn more, but not necessarily showing it. Essentially, I was hoarding information for myself, for no purpose other than to have it for the sake of having it.

I didn’t have a plan to utilize the information other than for tests or projects or to get a good grade so my parents would be happy. After a few years, it became burdensome to try and learn things just for the sake of being able to spout off some obscure fact in conversation. It wasn’t even that I was trying to make myself seem smarter, I just didn’t want to seem or be perceived as not smart.

At some point during early adulthood, I realized how tiring it was to hoard information for the sake of hoarding information. My reason came down to protecting my ego from being bruised if I perceived someone as being condescending.

If you find that you are someone that hoards information:

  1. 1. Ask what purpose that behavior serves in your life?
  2. 2. Answer the question, “If I wasn’t trying to hoard information for the sake of purely accumulating information, how would my life be better, different, or worse?
  3. 3. Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t spending time hoarding information, what would I be doing with that time?”

The purpose of this exercise is to gain clarity into an information habit. Once you start to become aware of the reason why you have this tendency, the path to change will become clearer if that’s something that you like to do.

Know The Context of The Information

I work in an environment where we have international clientele. There are instances when a language or cultural barrier causes a misunderstanding or something gets lost in translation. Not only does this happen because of a foreign language or cultural difference, it happens even more frequently when you’re interacting with people in your own culture and your own language.

People have a tendency to want to make sense if things, to fit information into a set of beliefs and perspectives that they hold. The danger in this can be demonstrated by the game telephone, where a group of people line up facing away from the initiator of the message.

Usually played as a group activity, the first person gets whispered a message. One by one, each player turns around and taps the person in front of them to pass along a message. By the time the message reaches the last person in line, it becomes a completely different message, to everyone’s amusement.

Sometimes a bit of information without the right context can set a decision making process completely off track. For example, if you see a news headline that reads, “Farmer Kills Neighbor in Barn”, you night think that the farmer is some deranged individual. Would your opinion of the farmer change if you learned that the farmer killed his neighbor because he walked in on the neighbor molesting the farmer’s young daughter?

Whenever being presented with information, question the context of information before making any decisions or acting upon that information.

Why Is Information Being Presented to you the Way It Is? 

After a long day, I like to browse through news sites or aggregator sites like It’s a way to zone out and wind down the day. I’ll save certain articles that I find inspirational, useful, or educational.

One thing to be aware of, especially with news sites, is that there is a very short shelf life to news. It doesn’t matter whether you’re reading out about current events happening in your town or globally. If you’re reading about it, it’s something that’s already happened and it’s old news

Even if it’s a developing story, you will most likely be getting a short snippet of information without a bigger picture explanation of what larger implications are.

Remember, any sort of news or aggregator app or even video website is set up so that you’ll stay on the app for as long as possible. With endless scrolling, constant updates, and feed refreshes, their goals is to literally flood you with information and options so you’ll stay on as long as possible to explore. For these platforms, it’s not necessarily about timeliness, objectivity, or limitations, it’s about training a viewers behavior to consume as much as possible for as long as possible.

There’s nothing wrong at all with consumption of information. The main thing is the you are aware of your habit and behavior so that you have clarity on whether or not your information consumption is serving your purposes.

Can You Turn Your Information and Knowledge Into a Skill?

There are so many skills that I wish I had, cooking gourmet meals, working on cars, construction and home renovation, Adobe Photoshop, Excel, speaking different languages, and dozens more. The great news is we live in the Information Age and the resources to learn these types of skills are completely available to you from the comfort of your own home or anywhere your mobile device can catch a signal.

It truly is an incredible time to be alive! If you are an voracious consumer of information, ask yourself if it is within your realm of desire to learn a skill from the information you consume. It starts off with a shift in mindset. Instead of consuming information to wind down at the end of the day or simply just to pass the time, start moving your intention of information consumption to a skill you’d like to learn.

Allow yourself some time but set a deadline for to dedicate your information consumption to a learning a skill. This is often the most difficult step as long established habits aren’t revised over night but over time. It also requires you to be accountable. For instance, if you are browsing online just for the sake of it and you want to dedicate some time towards gathering information to learn a new skill, start off with setting a 45 minute limit for yourself for browsing random things and then spend 15 minutes learning a new scale on the guitar, if, that’s what you’re interested in learning.

Over time, gradually increase the amount of time you spend gathering information on your new skill and decrease the amount of time you spend browsing random things. Be sure to set a plan for yourself. For instance, at the end of 2 weeks, I’d like to play the C Scale and G Scale on the guitar forwards and backwards without any mistakes. Small and consistent efforts over time will yield some incredible results as you combine your thirst for information into a new skill.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Having a family member admitted to the hospital happens everyday. Yet, this is my first time that an immediate family member of mine has been admitted to the hospital. It was a wake up call, for my Dad as well as for myself. The truth is that although the onset of dizziness that caused him to go the hospital was relatively sudden, the underlying ailment that caused the eventual dizziness wasn’t something sudden. It’s been in the works for years, mostly because of his eating habits and diet.

When we’d go out to dinner once a week, it was always for Chinese food or something involving a lot of meat and friend or oily foods. I don’t know what he’d eat on a normal basis. Each time I’d ask him about his health and diet, he said that he was fine; after all he did ride his bike to work everyday and he did play ping pong three or four times a weeks and sweated until his shirt was drenched.

I didn’t think too much about it and assumed that he was taking care of himself.

Blog - 3:17 - Out of Site DizzyLeave Diagnosing to the Professionals

When I received the call the other day to take him to the hospital, I was optimistic, albeit a little concerned, but optimistic nonetheless.

In recent years, my Dad has been really active, riding his bike to work, playing ping-pong four a couple of hours a couple of times a week. That morning, my Dad seemed like he was doing well, maybe a tad bit tired but he still looked ok and I took him to the hospital and then went to work.

When I called a little later to see if he got home safely, he said that he was in the Emergency Room. His blood pressure and blood sugar levels were dangerously high. I became worried. A couple of hours later, he said they had to run some more tests and that he would have to get admitted to the hospital overnight. Over the last couple of days, the Doctor and staff have been working to get his blood pressure and blood sugar back down to stable levels. He will be discharged in a day or so.

It turns out that he has diabetes but never took it seriously and thought he could take care of it by himself with exercise. His blood pressure was so elevated because there was a small blood clot in his brain that, luckily, did not affect any physical or cognitive function and increasing blood pressure was the body’s way of making sure blood was circulating to where it was needed.

Growing up, everyone thinks and acts like they are invincible. “That’s terrible that someone has to live with that condition or suffer from an ailment, but that will never happen to me,” is a common perspective from our teens into our 20’s and maybe even our 30’s. For some, that attitude carries even further until the point that it’s too late.

For health, and other matters in life that are important that we don’t have expertise in, leave it to the experts, leave it to the people and professionals that have a system to manage, measure, analyze and resolve issues that pop up.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Often, there is so much emphasis on thinking outside the box, allowing for creativity, and going by the “feel” of things that sight is lost of the scientific, measurable and quantifiable side of things.

In our jobs and careers, we learn about and implement S.M.A.R.T. – C.  goals.

S – Specific

M – Measurable
A – Action-Oriented
R – Realistic
T – Timely
– and –
C – Consistant

It has become progressively evident that there are many great tips that can be taken away from the job. In the past I wanted to keep such a strong delineation between my work and personal life. As silly as it may sound, I viewed work as a necessary evil that allowed me to pay my bills and live a comfortable lifestyle. It was a very myopic and self-centered view.

In recent years, I’ve learned the importance of experiences and tools learned at work such as quantifiable results, measuring progress and success, and utilizing all available tools to keep a laser-focused track towards a worthwhile goal.

With this wake up call from my Dad being admitted to the hospital, it drives home the message that there is always a way to measure, quantify, and be precise when progressing towards a goal, in the case of my Dad, having a healthy life with healthy vital measurements.

If we really wanted to become experts in something, we should all become experts in knowing when to ask for help and keeping ourselves healthy!

The Infamous Catch 22

When moving forward towards a achieving a goal, we’re bound to encounter obstacles at some point. Often, the nature of these obstacles come in the form of a Catch 22, defined by wikipedia as “a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contrary rules”.

One of the earliest examples I can remember learning about of a Catch 22 is the one about the four leaf clover; you have to have a four leaf clover to be lucky, but you have to have luck to find a four leaf clover in the first place.

It can be frustrating in Catch 22 situations because it creates a feeling of being stuck without any options. In retrospect, when encountering catch 22 scenarios in the past there were a a few different factors in play contributing to why I would personally stay stuck or just give up and abandon promising endeavors to move onto another.

The Influence of Others

In competitive environments, discussion and debate will often center around why things won’t work instead of how they could work. Harmless discussions would sometimes escalate to very heated debates as each side would try to one up each other with logic, rhetoric, and fierce counterarguments to prove their intellect. I got the feeling that most of time, it wasn’t even about trying to foster discussion as it was to prove “I’m better than you”.

This time of discussion and back and forth debate can be very beneficial, however, if taken in the right context. By hearing the ideas of why something won’t work, this brings awareness to valid points that may not have been on the radar previously. In addition, if valid points are made, this takes out a lot of the trial and error during the process, thereby saving money and time. In the same way that Edison’s critics would comment that he failed 10,000 times before he was able to get a light bulb to work, his response was that he didn’t fail 10,000 times, but rather, he discovered 10,000 different ways that it would not work.

The ultimate idea is to extract from an experience or interaction, the things that could benefit you, rather than having attention distracted from the goal to be achieved.

Creativity & Accountability

Another factor that would cause me to get stuck would be not exercising creativity to get out of a Catch 22 situation. It is infinitely easier and more convenient to just give up or blame a person or situation for why something could not work or did not work. Common excuses are that a task is too difficult, there wasn’t enough resources or time, or conditions were not favorable.

The intimidating part about these excuses are not the excuses themselves, but rather the habit of excuse making that comes from making excuses all the time. When there is no personal accountability and blame is so quickly thrust upon a an individual or circumstances, eventually the habit develops of constantly giving away personal power. For individuals experiencing this, unless there is a powerful transformative force that knocks them out of this behavior pattern and brings awareness to what they are doing to themselves, it becomes a vicious downward spiral of a life being a victim.

To achieve anything worthwhile in life, there will always be obstacles. When the prize is big, the stakes are higher and the obstacles are bigger and more frequent. One of the most important lesson to learn is that life will constantly knock you down and that it’s absolutely crucial to get back up.

Only then, through knowledge, experience and wisdom gained can a person elevate themselves to a level that allows for creativity and true out-of-the-box thinking in finding solutions and accomplishing big things!


Anyone that isn’t physically disabled and has lived to become an adult knows what it is to have perseverance. A baby doesn’t just lay there after attempting first steps, give up and cry, never to try again. There was no judgement on by the baby’s parents, or by the baby itself for falling down. All there was to do was to get up and try again.

With each attempt, with each fall and getting up again, strength was built and the process became more and more familiar. There was no judgement or consideration of time or how many weeks or months has passed. All the baby knows is to keep getting up, keep trying and after a while, that they are mobile can run rather than just walking or crawling!

Catch 22 Baby Walking

Somewhere along the way, a seed is planted that failure is not good, failure is unacceptable, and once you fail at something, there’s no chance for redemption. The truth that is known as a baby suddenly becomes overshadowed and forgotten by the pressure to get it right the first time around.

The important lesson that is often missed from giving up too soon, is that perseverance when working towards a worthy outcome always pays off in one way or another eventually. If we are not armed with this context, the opinions that something won’t work, or that something didn’t work because of circumstances, becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

In life, others may expose and plant a seed of an idea in our head, but it is ultimately us and convinces and decides what truth is to us in our experience. Never let time and fear scare you into making choices, let planning and possibilities drive you forward in your decisions.

Dissolving a Catch 22

Einstein famously said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” The same goes for any Catch 22 situation you find yourself in. The policies, rules or nature of the Catch 22 itself may not be been something you created. However, implicit in the fact that you encountered the situation is the fact that you can create another situation to encounter. It may involve taking a different or longer route; it may involve a change in mindset to transcend the situation entirely. One thing is for certain, when a idea captures your enthusiasm and imagination to the point where you decide to take action, remember that the idea didn’t come to you for no reason. Ideas come to you because the consciousness of an idea resonates with your consciousness and has chosen you to manifest it into the world!

Perception is Reality

Perception is reality. This assertion is most often at the foundational levels of all our interaction we have each day. At work, school, friendships or relationships, your perceptions can be the cause of disagreements and infatuations.

Take for instance an abusive relationship. Looking in from the outside, it may seem that a husband is controlling, disrespectful, unfair and downright mean. However, the wife may see him as assertive, confident, bold, and fearless. And even though he treats her in a way that may generally be perceived as “abusive”, her perception of him may be exactly what she wants, or even needs, in a relationship.

In regards to perception, we hear people’s opinions about situations and others. This can be seen all around us from little pre-schoolers fighting over a toy, to the highest levels of politics and media. He said she said arguments arise trying to justify actions and prove who is right or wrong.

As we hear these accounts of situations, most will usually take an account of what happened, as facts of what truly happened. Like the game of telephone, the more people the story gets communicated through, the more it changes.

In evaluating situations or solving conflicts, it’s absolutely crucial to realize that everyone that communicates, is communicating through a filter dictated by their prior life experiences. They use this filter to make sure judgements and come to their conclusions and ultimately, this filter reinforces their program of how they interact in the world.

In the same way it’s a good practice to take a step back and gather thoughts before responding or reacting, it’s a good practice to take a moment and realize that during conversations, you’re speaking to a person through his/her perceptions and filter, instead of speaking to the clean slate that is objectively able to evaluate situations.

Clarity and win-win situations are always the goal in successful communication and conflict resolutions.