The Articulate Incompetent

The Internet and digital age have given rise to a new phenomenon. There are people who know enough to be dangerous, not only to themselves but to you and me as well. Beware of the articulate incompetent. These are people who can talk a good game but have little or no experience at applying the newly-found knowledge they espouse.

With the ease of accessing a search engine and a brief period of focus, anyone can begin to convince you that they are an expert on anything.

Our grandparents would have had to travel to several libraries and universities and talk to a number of experts over several months or even years to have access to the information you and I have at our fingertips via the web.

To succeed in the 21st century, we must learn to differentiate information from knowledge, and knowledge from wisdom. Information is nothing more than random data or facts that have no specific application until they are internalized. Knowledge is the intake of that information.

A person who becomes knowledgeable has sought out a source of information, and by mastering that information, has gained knowledge, therefore becoming a source of information. Wisdom is the practical, successful application of knowledge. Wisdom is never gained solely by sitting in front of a computer screen or by occupying a seat in a classroom. It comes through hard work, generally accompanied by trial and error.

Wisdom allows us to avoid painful, frustrating, and time-wasting situations. Unfortunately, this wisdom is usually gained from going through painful, frustrating, and time-wasting experiences.

A person with knowledge may have a diploma, book, or computer program. A person with wisdom often has bruises, scars, and a bit of gray hair.

As you are trying to reveal and, therefore, avoid the articulate incompetent, it is important to realize they will want to tell you what they know while you will want to inquire about what they’ve done. An articulate incompetent may just know slightly more than you do about any subject. You can usually derail an articulate incompetent by allowing them to spout off their knowledge and then just simply ask them, “How have you applied that in the real world, and what were the results?”

We still live in a world that, when it’s all said and done, there’s a lot said and very little done. We don’t succeed based on what we know. We succeed based on what we do.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing if it is obtained on the road toward wisdom that can benefit the traveler and the whole world.

As you go through your day today, separate information and knowledge from wisdom, and avoid the articulate incompetents.

Today’s the day!


about the author

Jim Stovall is a blind man who sees what really matters. After years of reaching out to diverse audiences with his own remarkable history, he turned deep inside. Right to the heart of the values – or 'gifts' – that rest within us all, and the magical transformations that begin once we start to recognize and share these 12 treasures. The universal yet profound insights of his book became the keys that continue to unlock incredible new hope, joy and meaning for individuals, families, schools and public-service organizations throughout the world.

Jim Stovall has overcome blindness to become a national champion Olympic weightlifter, a successful investment broker, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. He is co-founder and president of the Narrative Television Network, which makes movies and television accessible for our nation's 13 million blind and visually impaired people and their families.

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at jim@jimstovall.com; or on facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor; or call 918-627-1000.