43. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

We often look at our ancestors as rubes or primitive, but they were far smarter than we give them credit for. Maybe they hadn’t advanced technology to the point of self-driving cars or iPhones, but there is more to human intelligence and survival than technology that makes our lives more comfortable.

In reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleI was struck by how much some of his teaching had become common knowledge (or maybe was and he simply codified it) and it made me think about how much of his book is likely proven or disproven through psychology over the years. How much of it has changed as the culture has, and how much is simply innate to the human condition?

It made me realize that even discussions on networking fit into the Conversation of Our Generation because my hope is to take the wisdom of past generations and apply it to the problems we face today, and that means that any knowledge is welcome.

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

-Isaac Newton

Our innate knowledge: 

We are born with intuition, reflexes, and more knowledge than we are aware of, and this is an advantage. There are so many things that are in our DNA that we don’t have to learn which opens us up to be able to focus on the things around us that we encounter everyday.

Our family’s wisdom: 

My mom moved away from her family when she married my dad, and when she became a mother, she had to look to my dad’s family for guidance. I know that I learn from my older cousins, aunts and uncles, parents, and grandparents. I also hope that I am a source for my younger brothers, cousins- and will be future nieces, nephews, children, and grandchildren.

Friends and colleagues: 

These people can offer fantastic nuggets of wisdom, but I find that they are the best for tactical parts of life. Because they are often around the same age, they often are facing similar problems or have run into similar issues recently. This makes them the perfect people to help navigate a new landscape or offer pragmatic advice on things like job searches, choice of a major, or living situations.

The collective wisdom: 

This isn’t wisdom of some sort of bodiless, ethereal consciousness we call the collective. It’s the fact that when there are 100 people in a room, there is a better chance that someone has the solution to a complex problem than when there are 10. When the number is 7 billion, we are really talking about the ability to solve each other’s problems. My hope is that by creating a forum for this discussion, we can find a way to do this better by bringing together different perspectives and belief systems to find the path toward a deeper Truth.

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