Zeal Tempered with Knowledge

Balance enthusiasm with intelligence

Zeal is a powerfully constructive force when combined with knowledge—and devastatingly dangerous when motivated by a misinformed mind. Neither the mind nor zeal will do much good without knowledge. Zeal must be cautious as well as warm—fire is good in a chimney, but it can burn down your house if it spreads to the rafters of your roof. Even the most well intentioned zeal could prove to be harmful, if it isn’t tempered with knowledge. On the other hand, in the absence of zeal, everything seems to be done with a “ho-hum” or a “have-to” sense of obligation. Opportunity may open the door that leads toward success, but without zeal you won’t step through to take advantage of it. Knowledge can be taught, but it is much more difficult to make someone be passionate about something.

Just to clarify, the type of knowledge we are referring to here is that which is embodied by wisdom—the very name of our species, Homo sapiens, signifies “wise man.” People often speak of knowledge and wisdom as though the two are the same, and both have quite a bit in common. The primary difference is that wisdom involves a healthy measure of perspective and the ability to make sound judgments about a matter, while knowledge is simply knowing. Anyone can become knowledgeable by reading, researching, and memorizing facts. Wisdom is knowing how to apply what is learned in a way that is beneficial. When balanced together, zeal and knowledge embodied with wisdom provide an indomitable force for successful living!

Wisdom is only acquired through experience, which also provides us more knowledge to navigate new challenges in life. If you are interested in trying new things and willing to reflect on the process, you have the ability to gain wisdom. Furthermore, by learning everything you can and spending time analyzing your experiences, then putting your knowledge into practice, you can become a wiser person. And with more wisdom, you will be able to avoid making repeated mistakes in the future. Here are some tips for gaining wisdom and knowledge:

  1. Try new things – it is hard to gain wisdom or knowledge when you do the same thing every day. Be willing to take a risk and try a task the difficult way to give yourself the opportunity to learn, make mistakes and reflect on the experience.

  2. Learn from others – talk to people with different perspectives and backgrounds from yours. Humbly listen, ask questions, and pay attention to what you can learn when you let go of your own biases that get in the way.

  3. Share what you know with others – don’t tell them what to do; lead by example by showing others the wisdom of being open, nonjudgmental and thoughtful in all situations.