What do you think is the key to getting ahead? While it’s not the only one, I believe that an important factor is knowledge. Knowledge is power; the more of it you have, the more power you have.
The good news is that there is a virtually unlimited amount of knowledge available to you through the Internet and other sources. The bad news is that the limiting factor in acquiring it is you. The problem is not the availability of knowledge; it’s how hungry your mind is. Thomas Friedman called it Curiosity Quotient (CQ).
I recently read a good paper on this topic. It contains a quote from psychologist John Dewey:
The curious mind [is] constantly alert and exploring
[and] seeking material for thought, as a vigorous and
healthy body is on the qui vive for nutriment.
Does this quote describe you? Do you constantly seek new materials to enrich your mind?
A powerful example of someone who does this is the legendary investor Warren Buffett:
One of the students asked what he could do now to prepare for an investing career. Buffett thought for a few seconds and then reached for the stack of reports, trade publications and other papers he had brought with him.
“Read 500 pages like this every day,” said Buffett, or words to that effect. “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
For Mr. Buffett, knowledge is power. That’s why he invested a lot of time in building it. He spent about 80% of his working day reading and thinking.
Interestingly, one of the students who heard that advice applied it:
… Combs began doing just that, keeping track of how many pages and what he read each day. Eventually finding and reading productive material became second nature, a habit. As he began his investing career, he would read even more, hitting 600, 750, even 1,000 pages a day.
Combs discovered that Buffett’s formula worked, giving him more knowledge that helped him with what became his primary job — seeking the truth about potential investments.
Long story short, Combs became a fund manager at Berkshire Hathaway – Warren Buffett’s company – and made a $50 million bonus because of his performance. Knowledge works.
As stated above, the interesting thing about knowledge is that it builds up like compound interest. This means that knowledge gives you an exponential return. That’s why curiosity is important: it makes you invest more in knowledge and thereby get a lot more in return.
Of course, it’s not enough just to acquire knowledge. You must also apply it. In Mr. Buffett’s case, he uses it to assess the value of potential investments. In your case, you might use it to advance your career, start a business, or improve other areas of your life.
But still, the first step is to build it. Curiosity is essential for that. Don’t let you become the limiting factor of your own growth.
Photo by Pietro Zanarini