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Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice. - Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright and the author of numerous short stories (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Chekhov). Today’s Wisdom Wednesday addresses the importance of applying what we learn.

With the huge amount of information available to us in books, the web, radio, and television, it is easy to become overwhelmed. When you take a look at the number of available, free online courses that information overload becomes even greater. When you begin looking for something to learn, your search could be motivated by a need to know something or to learn how to do something.

How do we internalize new bits of knowledge? We read about it, we take notes, we study the material. If we have enough information to use, we stop gathering information. If we do not have enough information or have other questions, we continue our quest.

It is easy to be sucked into “useless” learning. It can be entertaining to learn about a really obtuse topic that you will never apply but it should not be habitual. Who has that kind of time? Instead, we should focus on learning something that we can use. Perhaps you want to learn how to market your skills. Perhaps you want to learn how to write non-fiction or fiction. Perhaps you’d like to be a better public speaker.

Chekhov’s point is to apply what you learn. I like Merriam Webster’s word of the day. I want to grow my vocabulary and this is a great way to do it. I listen to the word’s pronunciation, I learn about the word’s origins, and I listen to the announcer’s use of the word in a sentence. Then I use that word for the day. This is a simple example of applying what we learn.

There is some learning that cannot be applied directly. I am currently reading Aristotle’s ethics. I cannot apply this information directly but I can use it when I am thinking or tackling an issue that I am struggling with. Learning about history is another example of this kind of learning. We read history to learn about what our predecessors did. How did they handle the problems of the day? How did they deal with reality? How did they tackle the challenges that faced them?

Next month I begin my year-long adventure into character building. I’m going to use the same model that Benjamin Franklin used to work on his character. He simply listed out the characteristics he wanted to achieve as a person and then he worked on one of these each month. After the first month, he would begin working on the first and the second characteristic. As he moved into the third month, he would be working on character trait one, two, and three. This continued until he had built all of the character traits he wanted to. This is an example of using previous knowledge and applying it to one’s own life.

Take a few moments today and figure out what you would like to learn. Begin researching all of the sources of information that apply to your topic of interest. Once you have isolated a few sources (online course, book, etc.) you can begin learning this new skill. Once you have tackled some of the content, try applying what you know to your day-to-day life. You’ll be amazed by the results and how quickly you assimilate this information.

I hope each of you is having a terrific week so far. As always, feel free to comment and pass along my blog to others in your network.

Thanks for visiting!

Until next time…

Dave

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