I was talking with a friend this week who was sharing his thoughts on the state of his chosen profession as a chemist. He was obviously discouraged as he told me about the lack of appreciation, the challenges, and the perceived lack of respect for the profession. He truly believed that there are no opportunities for chemists in today’s environment and how it would be a grave mistake for young people today to pursue a degree in this field. He even told how he discouraged his son from choosing this major, although from my friends’ account, his son sounded quite gifted and interested in chemistry.
Afterward, I couldn’t help thinking about my friend’s conversation(s) with his son, giving him his opinion about the future of the field of chemistry. I believe my friend was trying to help his son make a good choice, but I kept thinking how his opinion about chemistry would shape the life of his son as he chose another career, based on someone else’s opinion, rather than on his on likes and passions.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced something similar. We receive an opinion from someone we know or trust, and we then make decisions based that opinion. This can be especially true when the opinion comes from someone close to us. It can be comforting to get someone’s take on a decision we’re facing. However, I think it’s imperative that we are discerning enough to know what we’re getting from others and whether it is worth acting on. More specifically, we should be able to determine if what we are getting is merely an opinion, or if it is real wisdom. So what’s the difference? I looked up the definitions of opinion and wisdom, and came up with the following:
Opinion: A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
Wisdom: Knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action.
As we know everyone has an opinion. These opinions are based on the person’s experience, beliefs and thinking and are often presented as indisputable fact. Wisdom, on the other hand, is based on timeless principles that are proven true time and again. While opinions can be valuable, if I’m making a big decision, I want make that decision based on wisdom, rather than merely someone’s opinion.
We don’t want to give up what we’re gifted and passionate about because of someone else’s opinion. Therefore, we need exercise discernment to know whether what we’re getting is an opinion or wisdom. If it’s an opinion you’re getting, take it with a grain of salt and determine to make up your own mind on the matter. However, if it’s wisdom you’re getting, perk your ears up, pay attention, and look for ways to apply the wisdom to your situation in order to cause something to happen in your life.
Begin paying attention to your conversations this week and in the future in order to more accurately assess whether you’re getting opinions or wisdom. Not only will you’ll feel liberated by being able to tell the difference, you’ll also be better equipped to make wise decisions in your life.