Knowledge is one of the biggest advantages you can have in life. If you know something and other people don’t then there is automatically a need for your informed opinion. It is the ultimate equalizer because it has nothing to do with age, gender or race. Some people may begin life with a genetic head start or environmental advantages, however, unless they keep learning it is very likely someone else will pass them buy. Just look at how quickly certain individual’s careers or businesses are being propelled forward because they know more about technology than their more life experienced and better educated peers.
Knowledge doesn’t just mean being book smart although this is often an important variable and shouldn’t be downplayed. It becomes wisdom when it is also complemented with life experience and cultivated as a result of keen interest and/or passion in something. It involves both breadth and depth. There is no such thing as a one-dimensional expert. You must want to learn, make the concerted effort to get smarter, practice what you know, learn through trial and error and be open to alternative points of view. Ideologues are a hindrance to the development of knowledge and wisdom because they rarely change their opinion, disdain venturing outside their intellectual and emotional comfort zones and only pay attention to anecdotal evidence that is self-validating. Are you moving towards becoming and ideologue or an expert (it does matter)?
Just because you care deeply about an issue or speak with a loud voice during discussions of this topic doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about. In fact, I advise you to be wary of people who are too in love with their own opinions and stifle the input of others. They are often overcompensating for a variety of psychological and social reasons (too vast a discussion for this blog). The truth is that knowledge takes work and you are never done working. You will never know all there is to know about something and when you get close to a full understanding something inevitably will change and shake up your thought process.
The great thing about the pursuit of knowledge is that it can be a very rewarding journey. You get to broaden your perspective and better see the world for all its mystery and wonder. You begin to see patterns emerge and more fully appreciate the interconnectedness of things. You get a chance to make a real difference in areas of your personal and professional life that truly matter to you. You enhance you own capacity to handle whatever challenges are strewn in your path of accomplishment. You minimize excuses and maximize options. Life ultimately gets easier not more difficult.