Knowledge is good – Not always

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By Varatha Vengadesan, MBA 2012 – Finance & Intl Business

At the end of a long day I was glad to be back on the train that, I knew, would take me home finally. However, I cared to get into a casual conversation with one of my classmates who had accompanied me all the way from college. “My little niece is just one-and-a-half years old and she’s unbelievably brilliant!” she exclaimed. While I understood how excited she felt about her niece, who, I believed without a doubt, would be really brilliant, I remembered how many other people had told me how proud they were about their smart little kids. Everyone was right, indeed. Every kid you meet seems to be brilliant. Many of us were smarter when we were kids than we are now. But I have seen so many promising kids in my neighborhood growing up to be not-so-smart-as- you-thought once they start going to school.

Going to school is good. We start learning. Unfortunately, many stop thinking. A kid’s brain, which had always imagined beautiful things before, gets constrained by the knowledge that some things are practically not possible. I stopped thinking of my dream trip to the moon when my science teacher told me no airplane could take me there. When things we learn from the books start to contradict those we had imagined, we stop believing in ourselves and start believing the books. Our knowledge starts to constrain our ability to think; our ability to dream.

A computer loses its processing speed once the hard drive gets accumulated with too much data. The problem is not with the processor, which continues to operate with the same speed, but with the increased amount of data that the processor has to go through now to produce the results. The same happens with a human brain when it tries to scan every bit of accumulated knowledge before it can make decisions.

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Knowledge is not bad but too much of it is. We don’t need to know everything. Once Albert Einstein was asked how many feet are in a mile. He replied, “I don’t know. Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?” He was right indeed. He was the one who THOUGHT about many things that no one had any KNOWLEDGE about. How worth, you think, would be a person who knows every word in the dictionary but can’t make sense when he speaks? Just about the price of a dictionary, may be.

Knowledge is worthless when you lack intelligence. A knowledgeable person is just a warehouse but intelligence makes him a factory. Knowledge tells you that “PWC hires very few people every year” while intelligence reconstructs it as “PWC hires every year”. Three years ago my friend didn’t come with me to an interview because he knew beforehand only 5 candidates were going to be hired out of 250. I didn’t know that, but I was intelligent enough to be one of those five.

To be successful in this world, you needn’t know the whole world. Just make sure the world knows you. Think big although you remember less – the world will remember you forever. Need proof? Albert Einstein. Don’t know him? Great! You are well on your way! Think!


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