Is knowledge really power?

“scientia potentia est” (attributed to Sir Francis Bacon) Really? Is knowledge really power?

A few years ago, well before my “retirement” (which I now refer to as my “repurposing”), a colleague and I were chatting, and he said something that stopped me cold.  “Roger, it is time that we give away what we know!”  After pondering, I asked him to explain: “We are both retiring in a few years, and it is now our job to make sure that those we are leaving have all of the knowledge that we have accumulated.  It is not ours to keep, anymore. We no longer need to be the experts.”

He was right.  Until that moment, and for the previous 40 years, I had been fully focused on building and maintaining a great deal of knowledge as a source of professional influence that carried me far.  But that phase was coming to an end, and it was now time to shift gears.

Since that conversation, it has been my purpose to share the knowledge that I have accumulated.  I do that in my professional consulting, my mentoring activities, and in my pro bono work.  In all of it, I have discovered a new joy!  It is the joy that comes with watching people’s eyes light up with new awareness, with seeing people try things that they have never tried before, and pushing people to learn and accomplish things that they never thought possible for themselves.

In the process, I have learned much, myself.  I have learned that you can give away knowledge, keeping it while expanding its reach at the same time; and that real leadership is about building up others to accomplish amazing things.

In response to Sir Francis Bacon, giving away knowledge is power, more powerful than hoarding it; I owe that colleague of mine a great deal of thanks!