General · Learning

The Introspective Fool

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” ― William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Why this blog?

What inspires you? What motivates you? I love learning. I am motivated by learning and I become inspired by learning. I spend a lot of my time listening to podcasts, reading and interacting with interesting people. But I won’t make much impact if I keep what I learn to myself. I want to share the things I am learning, with anyone who is interested. Perhaps they will help and inspire you and make the world a better place…

What is the purpose of learning?

To acquire knowledge but more importantly to translate that knowledge into wisdom – the beneficial application of knowledge.

Some quotes to illustrate the difference

  • “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”  ― Aristotle
  • “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates
  • “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ― Isaac Asimov
  • “The unexamined life is not worth living.” ― Socrates
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  ― The Bible, Proverbs 1:7

Why learn?

I love learning for many reasons:

We are creative beings. Creativity creates meaning in my life. As a kid I grew up programming computer games, reading fantasy novels and dreaming of creating my own adventure stories with friends. I remember thinking “adults lose their imagination.  I must make sure that as I grow up I must never lose this… this ability to create something out of nothing, by using my imagination.” As I grew up what interested me changed, or more accurately expanded: I still love those things I grew up with, but I discovered that the world had many more interesting topics to explore. I realised that creativity builds not out of nothing but on the ideas of others. Learning about things we don’t yet know is a great way to inspire yourself to being creative.

Learning will make me a better person. I know I will never be perfect (one of the wonderful, liberating truths to be found in the doctrines of Christianity). But I want to be a better person, more true to myself, and a richer contributor to the lives of my family, my friends, my colleagues at work, my community.

I do love trivia. I just love learning stuff just for the sake of knowing something interesting. I hope it makes me a more interesting person. But what I desire most through knowledge is wisdom. Let’s be clear though, Wisdom should not be our only aim. God was pleased with King Solomon’s request to grant him Wisdom, but he still ended up failing to live as a godly man. Perhaps there is something even deeper we should be aspiring to? Relationship? Wisdom about relationships? Join me on that journey…

Breadth vs depth, what do I want to be expert at?

In any given area there are experts, who through their tremendous skill, focus and extensive dedicated time have built exceptional expertise in that area, more than I could ever hope to do. The world typically encourages and rewards great specialisation.

But my interest in learning is broad. I love connecting the dots between disparate, seemingly unrelated topics. I have always tended towards the generalist rather than the specialist in one particular area. I love the idea of being the “meta connector” of concepts. As an example, my job in investments gives me the tremendous privelege of dealing with true “best in the world” experts on a very wide variety of investment topics, which is why I love it so much.  It was one of the few careers I came across where I felt, “I can do the same job every day and never stop learning about a very wide range of things.”

But what about the gaps between the specialist experts? The unexplored cracks and fissures between the various fields-of-endeavour?  For me the interesting opportunities are in making connections between those disparate areas, how can ideas in one area be applied somewhere new? That’s where I want to focus: to be the expert “meta connector”. I want my skill, my differentiator and competitive advantage, to be that I am a person able to make those diverse connections. Through that I will be able to have greater creative impact and to hopefully boost the creativity and enhance the skills of  the specialists with whom I am priveleged to work or interact.

But you can’t be properly broad and wise without also getting sufficiently expert in some areas. I still need to be enough of an expert in the areas I want to apply the things I learn to. So I will need the skills and focus to learn to become an expert in some select areas. The key is focus, doing a few things well.

My mission in life is to develop my expertise in a few specific areas:

1. In being the expert meta concept connector, my learning passion

2. In Investment Management generally, and specifically in Asset Allocation, my work passion

3. In Photography, my creative passion

4. In enriching a select human relationships: my family, my friends, my colleagues and my chosen communities, my human passion.

What do I want to learn and share about?

So what will this blog cover? For the reasons mentioned above I am intentionally keeping it broad. There are some broad categories I find myself interested in which might appeal to different people, so I will try to categorise each entry into one or more topics, listed below, to which it is most pertinent. But remember, it’s the connections between diverse topics, the repeating patterns, that allow us to make the connections where there are gaps in expertise.

The main categories of topics I will focus on are, in no particular order

  • Relationships
  • Psychology
  • Business (particularly the cultures we define in business)
  • Investments (because it is what I do)
  • History
  • Health
  • Science (broadly but also particularly Physics and Astronomy)
  • Art
  • and in particular Photography (because that is what my hobby is)
  • Maths and Statistics

Many of the posts are likely to be quite short. But occasionally I might publish a thought piece, more like an essay. If these are of less interest please skip them, the last thing I want to do is bore people.

So why another blog of this nature?

Well firstly just because I will enjoy producing it.

Secondly I have found an unexpected benefit in producing it: it helps me to internalise the learning, to explain it succinctly to others is to understand it better oneself (and it will be a useful reference for me in future when I want to remember something).

And finally because learning is how we progress as a civilisation. That may seem like a statement of the obvious, but how good are we at learning as a civilisation? If I can help spread ideas more widely we may all learn wisdom a little faster, and the world will become a little  better….

One thought on “The Introspective Fool

  1. The most valuable skill I have recently picked up is letting go of blame. ANd it is working wonders. Why don’t they teach this in schools ? I have no idea. Am in my 50s and finally got tired of not forgiving myself and others for my / our humanity. Does this sound religious somehow ? It is not. It is good mental hygiene. As far as I can tell, the Stoics of Ancient Greece and Rome did not hold grudges against anyone nor did they stay stuck in self- blame, like we often do today. http://wp.me/p1QwdP-1YL Thanks for this post !

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