A Valuable Lesson – How To Learn Everything About Everything

A Valuable Lesson – How To Learn Everything About EverythingThere I was sitting across the desk from the legendary fleet commodore of my company. As a junior officer I could sense the power of the man who had led some of the most daring, and most successful sea voyages of his time. And now he was an admiral of a desk.

Yet, even the most senior sea masters and chief engineers trembled invisibly, at least once, if summoned into his office. He had a way of sizing up the people and quickly telling them exactly where they needed to focus.

As I sat across him, he asked “Lad, do you see this sign under my desk?” I glanced at the sign – neatly typewritten and carefully tucked under the glass covering his desk. I started reading it because it seemed interesting. It said:

“A captain is a man who starts knowing a little bit about a few things. As he gains experience, he learns less and less about more and more – till he comes to a point where he knows nothing about everything.

A chief engineer, on the other hand, also starts knowing a little bit about a few things. However, as he gains experience, he learns more and more about less and less – till he knows everything about nothing.”

It was an amusing sign, especially for a junior officer barely into 20s. I cracked a smile and looked at him with puzzled eyes. I was wondering why this serious man with hardly a minute to spare would show me such a frivolous thing.

In his thunderous voice, he asked me: “Which one are you, Lad?”

I answered: “It is obvious, I work on the deck side – so eventually I will become a captain.”

“So, you want to end up knowing nothing about everything?” he asked.

I replied: “Now that you put it this way – no, not really. I want to know about more and more things for sure, but I want also to make sure that I know enough about those things to be able to effectively use that knowledge.”

“Keep that answer in your mind as you gain experience – now you can go and join your ship.”

I wondered if he gave the same lesson to everyone. Then I remembered there were several other sayings taped on his desk.

In the next blog I will write about how to get everything for nothing.

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Vivek Sood

I write about "The Supply Chain CEOs", "The 5-STAR Business Networks", and, how to "Unchain Your Corporation". In my work, I help create extraordinary corporate results using several 'unique' supply chain methodologies. Contact me for interesting, high impact projects, or, to get access to my IP for creating transformations using these methodologies.

  • David Barman says:

    Practically speaking, knowledge is oceanic and one cannot drink the ocean dry.

    So, it is not possible for any one individual to know everything about everything. So, it is a mere whim.

    But there is a way out. One can try to learn something about everything and everything (does not mean everything literally – it means maximum per one’s capacity) about something.

    Now, how to learn something about everything. There are millions of pages of information on each topic you mention. But, you can find useful essays on different aspects of each topic which in a way summarize the oceanic pool of data. The essays, or reviews on books provide an overview or glimpse of the topic. This way, even without watching the movie, just by watching some clips and knowing the story in brief, as we can know about a movie and be able to talk about it, we can understand all the major topics in this world via the medium of good essays.

    Everyone in this world, who wants to know something specific about some issues, ask the experts. So, whenever you want to know something in detail, you can tap into the knowledge of experts, scholars and experience people like connecting to a main-frame computer. You can even discuss, chat with some experts too.

  • Elvis Pulaha says:

    Well, learning everything its simple as long as you have the curiosity and to me, you sound really ambitious. That is a good start. Next step would be online courses, for example, course or udemy provides a range of all courses and topics. You can either join on skype classes or download the course and learn it yourself at every time. But what’s the point of learning everything and knowing how things work if you don’t experience them?
    Save some time, focus on just one course. Take online exams and pass the certification test. What comes next, Real life implementation, testing, labs and try to put on work what you have learned. I’m sure there will be a big difference between studying and action.

    I have no doubt that ‘your brain is like a muscle if you don’t use it ‘you will lose it’

  • Jonathan says:

    Great explanation! Does it provide valuable learning for the life and for the beginners who need to know what should learn and what should not?

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