Knowledge Isn’t Wisdom

As an early-stage founder, I was part of an entrepreneurial group that taught new founders about key business functions. Each quarter we went deep into a specific business function: marketing, finances, HR, marketing, etc. At the end of each of those sessions, I better understood functions that didn’t come naturally to me (e.g., marketing). I felt educated. But I still had a problem: What do I do with this new knowledge? How do I use it in my business? I’d learned what I needed to do, but I still had no idea how to do it.

This experience highlighted the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge is acquired by learning new information or being made aware of something. Learning about marketing is an example of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge acquisition doesn’t always equate to adding value. There’s another step.

Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge in a manner that aligns with the outcome you desire. Wisdom means changed behavior and improved decision-making—knowing what to do and when to do it. Wisdom is acquired from experience (yours or someone else’s). Growing your company through marketing execution is the result of wisdom.

Through trial and error and talking with other successful entrepreneurs (who shared their experiences), I learned how to apply the concepts I learned in those sessions to grow my business. My problem was solved.

This experience showed me that knowledge is important. You can’t apply something if you aren’t aware of it, which is why continuous learning is so important. But wisdom is what I value most because applying knowledge well is how I achieve the outcomes I desire.