Education, Experience, and Wisdom

Many of you know that along with my role as CEO of CLASS (Community Living and Support Services) I also teach in the School of Health and Rehab Sciences at Pitt. One class I teach each year is "Organizational Theory and Behavior." This course introduces the structure, history, and impact of organizational theory and since we are preparing our students to be successful in the organizations they join, we feel this is an important topic. 

One concept we cover in this course is the "knowing/doing" gap. Quite simply this construct suggests that there are 2 key routes to organizational success for potential employees. One is knowing the subject matter of the company, and this implies learning, studying, and analyzing aspects related to the focus of the organization. In many ways, this is what colleges, universities, and some aspects of trade schools do. We teach our students all about the elements necessary in the field that they hope to work in. 

The other part of this construct is "doing," and here is where experience comes in. Actually working and learning the trade from inside by doing the work necessary. In some parlance, we identify this as the "school of hard knocks."  In a way, learning by doing.

Both of these elements (education and experience) are important to work life success and they are not mutually exclusive. You can learn from books, but until you put this knowledge to action, it remains primarily abstract. And, on the other side, you can learn by doing something, but unless you take the time and discipline to dig deeper and educate yourself more in the topic, you will only have a shallow reality. That is why we work hard at Pitt to get our students internships, placements, and field experience while they are learning and studying - so they can lessen the "knowing/doing"  gap.

And this is where wisdom comes into play. As you begin to accumulate lessons from your doing, and then sharpen your understanding from learning more, wisdom develops. Of course, the older we get, and the more we accumulate lessons from life, the wiser we become. In a way, wisdom is the by-product of knowing and doing. 

Think about it, and how you can continue to "learn" as you "do." Wisdom will surely follow.