Knowledge vs Wisdom

Written by: Kevin Cann

I am going to begin this article by telling a story that is titled “A Cup of Tea.”  An important man traveled far to seek out the guidance of a Zen master.  This Zen master was said to be the best of all of the Zen masters.  People would seek him out from far and wide for guidance.

This important man meets with the Zen master and tells him that he is there for his guidance.  The Zen master says “We should have this discussion over some tea.”  The Zen master then pours the tea, overfilling the cup to the point where it gets all over this important man.  The man gets agitated and yells at the Zen master to stop because he is getting the tea all over him.

The Zen master then responds “You are like this teacup, so full that nothing more can be added.  Come back to me when the cup is empty.  Come back to me with an empty mind.”  There is a longer version of this story that is worth reading, but this gets the point across.

We no longer seek the wisdom of those that have it.  Instead, we fill our minds with useless knowledge and opinions and leave no room for what experience can teach us.  Our egos protect this useless knowledge and opinions because the ego does not like to be wrong, and we allow the ego to run the show the majority of the time.

Social media is an important piece to this.  Social media is filled with useless knowledge and opinions, and it fills our heads with useless knowledge and opinions, even when we think that we are absorbing quality information.

Knowledge can be communicated, but wisdom needs to be experienced.  That study that you are reading the infographic about is knowledge.  Debatable whether it is useful or useless.  Wisdom and insight come from experiencing the world.  It is only then can you decide if that knowledge is useful or not.

Too many lifters and coaches are in such a rush to be a finished product, that they miss out on these opportunities to develop wisdom.  Coaches are in a rush to write the perfect programs and lifters are in a rush to have lifts big enough to get more likes on Instagram.  Likes that help fuel the ego and encourage us to dig into our current beliefs.

I am not saying that a coach needs to be a great lifter, but a coach needs to lift and compete.  They need to lift with effort, and they need to do it for a long period of time.  Without this they may possess some useful knowledge, but they will never develop wisdom and insight.  They need to do this with an open and empty mind.

Many will think that they are going through this process with an open mind, but that is not true.  Often the mind is filled with thoughts and emotions from our typical day to day life.  We allow the ego to silence and block out all of the messages the world is trying to give us to help us learn.  We do not give our mind the breaks or develop the tools to allow us to seek wisdom.  This includes meditation, sleep, eating well, and hydration, as well as other stress management tools.  

I see coaches that discuss the importance of hypertrophy, but they have no muscle mass.  How can you understand hypertrophy if you have never experienced it?  I weighed 165lbs when I started lifting.  I know weight 220lbs.  I put on a lot of muscle mass.  It did not require any special protocols, just training hard consistently and eating enough.

When I first started, my best squat was 275lbs and my best deadlift was 425lbs.  I now squat over 500lbs and I have pulled over 600lbs.  Neither are impressive, but it shows my commitment to the sport over a period of time.  There are lots of lessons learned there.

I took the knowledge from working with Sheiko for 3 years, a trip to Westside, conversations with coaches and lifters, and turned it into our methods through these experiences.  Experiencing these things is how you turn that knowledge into wisdom and insight.  This doesn’t necessarily mean your lifters experiencing them.  You actually need to experience them to fully understand.  Without the experiences you just attempt to copy what those you learn from do and that will only get you so far.  Progress will not happen like that either.

As a lifter you should seek out those with wisdom and insight, not those with only knowledge.  And do so with an empty and open mind.

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