Knowledge is of no value unless you put into practice

Anton Chekov

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about it even before I stumbled across this quote. For me the pursuit of knowledge has always been the ultimate goal, no matter what I do. I can’t skim over things or pretend to know something, if I haven’t really researched it. 

I read everything. 

For example, I recently analyzed a power plant for investment purposes. Now, all I needed to do was look at the financial results. I couldn’t stop there. I had to look at the engineering documents to see how the turbines worked and how the energy production was calculated. Some of the math went a little over my head but you know what, now I have a fair idea about how a gas turbine works. 

I spend a lot of time reading and researching things that are not directly related to my work. I read books on physics, biology, math and anything else I can find. I’ve always felt that gathering knowledge is always a good idea. But, now I’ve started to doubt this. 

Firstly, of course, I agree with the quote I began with. If I’m not using this knowledge then what good is it having it in my head. There’s no point knowing how a gas turbine works, if it doesn’t enhance my investment proposal. (It did a little bit though). 

Secondly, I feel like the time I spend gathering this knowledge is a waste. People with half the knowledge I have are doing better in life, because they’ve used their time to market themselves instead of learning things in depth. Knowing just enough is okay. 

Lastly, and most importantly, I think the default thought process is that no one can know so much about anything. So even if I proclaim to know something, people don’t believe it. Why would a finance person know anything about a gas turbine or anything else in this world?!?!

Alas, we are shaped by people in our childhood. My grandfather was a polymath and it amazed me how much he knew about everything in this world. What was even more amazing was how he gathered his knowledge. I still remember the day he sat my friend down and asked him to explain how the Internet works. He didn’t care that he was learning from someone 50 years younger than him. All he cared about was increasing his knowledge. It bugged him that he didn’t know what the Internet was. And it bugs me when I don’t know enough about something. 

So, what will I do with this head full of knowledge if I can’t put it into practice? Does it really have no value?

Photo by Janko Ferlic on