If you collect something that means that you have passion for it. And…I’ve never been some passionate collector.

I have a few boxes of books in my basement, but they’ve all been read. I have exactly three basketball balls with signature of my sports heroes. And, the stamps I have are saved for the snail mail I still have to send out.

If you ask me, acquiring items for the purpose of having acquired them didn’t put the wind in my sails.
But not all people agree with me. There are entire industries built around those who collect — those who derive genuine joy from amassing and displaying things and multiples of things.

I don’t exactly understand it, however I respect the hell out of it. It takes a lot of hard work.

Lists, Books, and Collectible Knowledge

Learning

Lifelong learning is full with anger these days. Blogs, e-books, and conferences abound these days with the purpose of providing new and useful information to people. A lot of e-books to read, blogs to follow, and newsletters to subscribe to are constantly being published. This can be overwhelming on two ways:

1.Which of all these books, blogs, newsletters, and courses are actually worth my while? I can’t subscribe to them all. I don’t have time to consume all that information they are offering.

2.What am I missing out on? Could a e-book on a list that I haven’t read have been the one that changed my life and made me truly successful?

These are genuine concerns for those individuals who no longer face other anxiety-inducing issues — like where our next meal is coming from. I don’t say this to downgrade the feeling. I get it too, once in a while. However, I recently realized something that has helped me put it into context, and become a little bit less worried about which learning resources I consume, and what I may be missing.

You see, my worries that I listed above are not that different from the worry of a really obsessive collector. The worry is more about collecting information of things (data) and not about creating something.

Lumber and Nails are Not a House

Learning

That is the thing. Knowledge is not something you gather and collect, knowledge is something you make. You produce it out of information that you have connected with principles and concepts. So no amount of reading and data consumption will make you more intelligent. If you don’t do the work of making connections, and in this way creating a lasting fabric of knowledge.

A mistake that we often make is to see learning as collecting, rather than connecting. We collect information, but we can only gain knowledge by connecting that information.

To explain what I mean here, imagine that you would like to build a big house for you and your spouse. You get a paper and write down all of the materials you will need: lumber, nails, drywall, shingles, siding, etc.

Than, you order all the material, as well as the tools you’ll need, and have it dropped in the empty lot where you want the house to be. You now have all of the pieces of the house, ready to go. But you still don’t have a house.

Learning
To have a house you need more than just the materials that constitute it. It requires the work of building. That work is the work of connecting, putting together, supporting, and cutting to fit. Through that work, the materials meet up to make a shelter, something that when they were separated, they never were.

That is just how knowledge works. You can gather all of the important information, organize it in your brain, and get all the tools needed. However, without the work of connecting it all, you still don’t have knowledge.

All you have is a lot of information. That is all. You’ll be awesome on trivia night, but when it comes to strategy, choosing, and innovation, it won’t serve you at all.
So as you get your board out, and take after countless others to surf the rising wave of lifelong learning, don`t forget, you should not seek a collection, seek connections. There lies knowledge, and maybe one day, wisdom.