I have talked before about “finer distinctions” as they relate to different topics, but with every passing day, I see their value even more. This Tip is about the distinction between knowledge and understanding.
When I understand something clearly, I am amazed at the results and outcome I often experience. However, when I think I understand something and then later discover that I actually did not understand things as clearly as I thought I did, I end up confused and very frustrated.
All of us have had an experience where we thought we understood a situation clearly only to learn find out that we, in fact, did not have a clear understanding at all. You see, it is not what we think we know that really matters. The real key is actually understanding what is taking place. That is what will make the final difference.
If our emphasis is on true understanding rather than just knowledge, we will be much better. Our actions can be no wiser or better than the way we think and our thinking can be no wiser than our understanding. You have to really think to understand this Tip!
Maybe an example will help. Many people put a vast amount of time, effort and energy into planning a wedding; the rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony and the honeymoon. People often mistakenly think that the emphasis should be on the wedding ceremony itself. However, all of that is only going to last for only a few hours. Marriage is supposed to last a lifetime. Yet, frequently more thought is put into the wedding ceremony than the actual marriage itself. This concept requires a great deal of understanding. If your knowledge of marriage is only about the wedding and honeymoon, rather than understanding how a relationship works, in the end you will be very surprised and disappointed.
The same is true of finances. We often hear about people who have won the lottery. Overnight they are very wealthy, yet they may not have acquired an understanding of how wealth should be wisely handled. In that case, all they have acquired is the knowledge that they are rich. It is much more important to actually have understanding about money matters. If someone has understanding and loses all their money, they can always get more money. But, if they have only knowledge and no understanding, they may end up broke.
The wisest man who ever lived had something to say about this topic:
“Wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:10
You see, Solomon gave us four steps for successful living; wisdom in our heart, knowledge in our soul (mind, will and emotions), discretion as our protection, and finally, understanding as the overall watch-guard of our life.
Here is one last example to illustrate my point. Recently I had to get two replacement doors for our office. Did you know there is a difference between a right-handed door and a left-handed door? It is not just a matter of what you think about it. It is a matter of clearly understanding the industry specific explanation of right-handed and left-handed doors. The carpenter, builder, construction supervisor, architect and employee at the local hardware store all have to have the same understanding. Otherwise, what you think is a right-handed door may actually be a left-handed door.
It does not matter that you have knowledge that you need a door. What matters is that you have understanding so that you purchase the correct door. My builder explained to me that if the door swings open to the right, away from you, as you stand in the doorway with the hinges to your back, it is a right-handed door. If it swings open to the left, away from you, as you stand in the doorway with the hinges to your back, it is a left-handed door. That is the understanding that everyone in the building industry has, therefore there can be no misunderstanding.
I know that is just a simple example but multiply that times the hundreds of details over the days, weeks and years of your life and you will see why understanding carries the day.
The purpose of this Tip is to help you have a better life. I know of nothing that has helped my life be better than the fact that understanding is paramount in all that I do.
Tip: Put “understanding” on the top of your list!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm