Sometimes, What We Know Does Not Matter

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Have you ever woken up in the morning and you just don't feel happy. Your tolerance level is almost zero. You suddenly find a lot of things irritating. And most puzzling of all, you can't find any reason for being this way. Well, welcome to Reality. 


The year before I got into the university, I got a mail that I had won a lottery: $1,500. Everything looked so real I printed it and contacted my uncle in the US to help with the account I could have them wire the money to. But he had just moved to US then and wasn't well established enough to help. So I had to let it go. Then some years later, after I have gotten more similar mails, I was amazed by how easily I fell for the scam. How did I believe that I won in a lottery I did not play in.

In 2007, I bought into the IPO of Mutual Benefits Assurance. Then it went from N0.60 to N5.52 in about one year. That's almost 10 fold gain. About 1,000% rate of return. If I had borrowed or stolen N100 million, it would have become N1 billion and even the people I stole from would be happy with me. They would even supply me more stealing opportunities. Thank God I didn't steal or borrow, I simply put in all the money I have in another promising stock. And lost everything. 

So, why do I say what we know sometimes doesn't matter? 

It's because in reality, oftentimes, what we know is one thing and what we do is something else. And it's only after a couple of experiences that what we do begin to fully reflect what we know. 

It's like making your first car purchase. You've researched it and know everything about the car. The day before you bought the car, you could convince a panel of 100 learned men on why that car is the right one for you. You've got all the knowledge you need. Then you make the purchase; you buy the car. And you suddenly begin to take what everyone say about the car seriously. Even what a passing school child says. Every good thing they say makes you feel good, as if you never knew it. And every bad thing they say gets at you. 
Nothing has changed in your knowledge level between the day before the purchase and the day after the purchase. Yet there's this disturbing gap between what you know and what you do. But as you buy one or two more cars, help friends and relatives with their car purchase, that gap almost disappears.

That is what Experience does. It bridges the gap between what we know and what we do. And that's what I'm going to talk more on.

Do you remember how you felt wearing your first suit?
Do you remember how you felt when you wore high heels for the first time?
Do you remember how you felt your first time on a flight?
Do you remember how you felt the first time you gave a formal speech?
Do you remember how you felt the first time you tried swimming?
Do you remember how you felt the first time you worked on a very important official task?
Do you remember how you felt during your first interview?
Do you remember how you felt having a discussion with your first crush?

I hope you'll agree with me that what you knew mattered very little. You kept looking out for everyone wearing a suit and trying to do a comparison. Most of the trouble you had with the high heels were mental than physical. You just couldn't sit still till you boarded the plane. You stood up for the formal speech but your mind remained on the seat. Nothing you had read about swimming was working the way you expected. You kept making yourself look stupid to your boss and senior colleagues. And your first interview, you really wished you could redo it; even that same day. You still can't make sense of how you felt in front of someone who is just flesh and blood like you.

And it's like this for almost every major activity we take up. Just that the sad part is most of us ignore this reality. We go online to read all we could about fixing our car, making a speech, swimming, etc. and are surprised when reality doesn't meet with our expectations.

When you pay someone to paint your house. You could have done it yourself or even better with special tips from Google. In theory. In reality, you'd do worse. You are also paying for experience. The part all the knowledge in the world cannot bestow on you.

And that's what makes the difference between a librarian and a lecturer. A lecturer and a consultant. A consultant and a politician. It's how far they take the knowledge they have. The amount of experience they heap on it. That's what matters. Not the knowledge.


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