Attention Intention

Do you remember Trivial Pursuit?

Family night in the 1980’s frequently involved moving our coloured “pies” around the board answering general knowledge and pop culture questions to earn what my dad always called “wedgies”. At our house winning Trivial Pursuit was worth major bragging rights.

The game was so popular that there were stories of people memorizing thousands of answers from the boxes full of cards. Those cards were ultimate authority, even when we sometimes disputed their accuracy.

I haven’t heard of anyone playing Trivial Pursuit in years but my kids have become masters of trivial information. Rarely a day goes by without some “fun fact” being shared from a popular meme page or Instagram feed. The sheer volume of information exposure we all experience daily is overwhelming.

And yet, we are still struggling with basic matters of kindness and ethics.

It’s no news flash to observe that more information hasn’t made us more wise.

I frame the situation this way:

Information + context and corroboration = Knowledge

Knowledge + compassion and application = Wisdom.

Of course Wisdom is the highest form and the one to which we aspire, but it would be a mistake to think we can focus there entirely. We need to gather Information from a variety of sources, scanning the horizons (and our newsfeeds) like a Searchlight to see what might be worthy of further consideration.

When something captures our interest we can try to understand the context around it and find corroborating evidence to shape and support our Knowledge. This is like a Spotlight drawing our attention and increasing our awareness of what we find.

Finally, when we want to bring change or influence we narrow the focus further like a Laser, seeking ways to make the Knowledge relevant and beneficial.

In every case the energy is essentially the same (light), the difference is the degree of focus.

(I’ve written on this approach previously in terms of using our individual and organizational energy; but now I see it equally helpful in handling the endless and demanding flow of content surrounding me constantly.)

There’s no magic formula for how much attention to give to each of Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. Circumstances and seasons require different emphasis at different times. Why is helpful is to remind myself that my desire is for increasing Wisdom, and Information and Knowledge are important as part of that process.

Anyway, I’ve missed a pile of tweets while writing this so I’ve got to resume scrolling. Thanks for sticking with me this long.