“The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
I have met dozens of people who gather facts.
In business and in personal life.
What I mean is they are masters of assembling facts of learning to gain knowledge. In addition they are incredible at being able to regurgitate facts and figures and words they have read or heard … uhm … but … they don’t ‘use’ the facts.
Let me be clear.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t passionate about showing what they know and in fact oftentimes it is great information. But to me there are information gatherers and learning sharers – two completely separate things.
Ollie Holmes was a pretty smart guy (didn’t know him personally but I would imagine he wouldn’t have been very receptive to being called Ollie).
He could have simply been a lawyer and worked with the facts as they were.
Instead he became an icon of Supreme Court justice by showing people how to interpret “the facts” and make them come to life in learning. I skewer the legal field often because lawyers and judges have an incredible responsibility with regard to interpreting facts and I am sometimes unsure they understand that responsibility.
But then there are people in the legal system like Oliver Wendell Holmes. He actually shows us that not all lawyers are slimy ambulance chasers.
We can’t all be as smart as good ole Ollie but we certainly can learn the lesson.
In life, not just in law, accumulating facts just isn’t enough.
You have to actually use the facts in a … well … useful way. That means not only do we have to learn we have to learn how to use our learning.
I imagine we would all be better off not just intellectually but as people if we all aspired to learn how to use facts we have gathered from learning.