Knowledge vs Wisdom
In my first job, I joined an experienced team that had been working on the product for about 3-4 years. The product was already mature and they already had a large code base. My first task was to launch a feature with a tight deadline and hence my manager recommended me to talk to people and understand the code as soon as possible (as opposed to taking my own time to read the code in silo).
My teammates were incredibly helpful and knew the answers to every question I had. While this may seem as a positive thing, it was actually quite daunting. In a college or university environment, the students are all learning at the same time. At work, it felt as if all the students around me have read the entire course material on the first day of class and I walked in without a clue. It felt as if I knew nothing and people around me were geniuses.
I discussed this with my manager at that time and he said - “Never admire (or be impressed by) someone just for the amount of knowledge they have. It is mostly due to the fact that they’ve spent a whole lot more time on the problem. I’m sure you’ll have knowledge of the code base after a few months in this team.”. While I felt better after the 1-1, I didn’t quite understand what he was trying to tell. I still didn’t know what I should be learning from the people around me.
Over the next year or so, I started to get an idea of what he was trying to say by just observing the things he was trying to learn and the people he was looking up to. While he knew how to solve most of the problems, he was trying to figure which is the right problem to solve. This was the first time I understood the difference between knowledge and wisdom and over the last few years, I’ve figured out a few more differences from smart people around me.
- Knowledge gives you the points to talk in a group meeting. Wisdom tells you when to keep quiet.
- Knowledge is knowing all the Machine Learning algorithms. Wisdom tells you when to apply what.
- Knowledge can make you arrogant. Wisdom teaches you to be humble and keep learning.
- Knowledge is acquired from books whereas wisdom is through experience.
- Knowledge is knowing the what. Wisdom teaches you the why and when.
Code. Learn. Explore