We now turn to the fourth of the Zentropist’s Primary Attributes, which is centered on Knowledge in all its myriad forms. There is a natural tendency for some to seek to flaunt their accumulation of knowledge, to prove to the world that they are “expert” or somehow all-knowing when it comes to a particular subject. This is the course of fools and charlatans. On the other hand, there are those who revel in their ignorance, or worse, do not comprehend how dramatically their lack of knowledge impacts their journey through this life, which is a tragedy in of itself.
The Zentropist walks the Middle Path. The Zentropist seeks, “The knowledge of when to speak, and when to listen.”
Knowledge can be highly esoteric or highly technical; it can be mundane, it can be revolutionary; it can change the course of human events or it can simply be a part of the greater flow of life. The Zentropist must selectively continue to evaluate his or her body of knowledge, to seek to broaden it where appropriate, and to plumb the depths of the subjects to which he or she is drawn, for knowledge calls out to those who seek it and takes on a life of its own. Possessing knowledge for knowledge’s sake may not be productive in our fast-paced modern world, but encouraging the curiosity and thirst that lead one down a path, so long as that path is not one of self-destruction or harmful to the well being of others, is to be admired.
Let us also be clear on an important point. A Zentropist is not someone who knows a little about a lot of things, a dilettante masquerading as a subject matter expert. In fact, a Zentropist must have a command of a number of subjects, and certainly should demonstrate expertise or substantial capability in specialized fields. That being said, a Zentropist should also have the wisdom to consult with those more knowledgeable when the situation warrants, and must never overstate or over-estimate his or her abilities. To do so would invite the very disharmony and chaos that we seek to overcome.
The Zentropist exhibits qualities of both the generalist and specialist, which some in the business world have termed a “versatilist,” or per a press release statement in 2005 regarding the IT sector by Diane Morello, VP of Research at Gartners, Inc., “Versatilists are people whose numerous roles, assignments and experiences are enabling them to synthesize knowledge and context to fuel business value.” In many respects, the versatilist as defined by Ms. Morello is a prototypical Zentropist.
It has been famously said that, “To know is to know that to know is not to know.” This is something that is rather profound on several levels. In admitting our ignorance, our knowledge is revealed, and in seeking to address the very deficiencies that we all know to exist, we discover new things about ourselves which lead to our continued evolution.
And the more a Zentropist evolves, the better he or she can serve not only his or her own needs, but those of others.
And that, ultimately, is what it is all about…