It is not what you know. It is what you do with what you know.

Recently I watched a show about Nikola Tesla. It was the Tesla Lives show at Discovery Word.  (We have a membership, so we go quite often. My youngest son loves technology and so does his mom!)

Nikola Tesla, for those who do not know, was a super genius inventor of many things during the late 1800s/early 1900s (around the time of Thomas Edison).  Among many things, he invented or discovered: the AC Motor, the radio, MRI X-Rays, wireless transmission of energy, the loud speaker, and the Tesla coil.  After leaving the Tesla show, a quote stuck with me.  It was a quote that was reiteratred over and over during the show.

It is not what you know.  It is what you do with what you know.

There are people in my life - people in my family - friends -  who are brilliant.  From an outsider's perspective, these people are math geniuses - incredible at numbers and science, amazing at art and building things, or an encyclopedia of political information. 

However, something holds these people back.  Something keeps these people still.  What is it?  What keeps people inside their comfort zone?  What keeps people from using their talents to the best of their ability?  

Fear.  I am sure of it.  It's the fear of failing - and the fear of disappointing the people around us.  I experience this fear myself.  We all do. 

My dad - who passed away years ago - once drew a picture of me.  He planned to give the picture to me for my birthday.  My mom told me this after he died.  It was supposed to be a surprise and he worked on it for a weeks.  However, after the picture was done, my dad (who apparently was a good artist, a skill he rarely talked about) looked at it - became disappointed with himself and set the picture aside.  He was nervous of my reaction, and eventually, instead of giving his daughter the amazing gift, he threw the picture away.  The surprise present never happened. 

Six years after my dad's death, missing him so much, I would give anything for that picture. 

My son is brilliant.  (Of course, I am biased - being his mom.)  However, when I try to encourage him to write down his ideas for people to read, he gets nervous.  He does other things.  He gives excuses as to why he can't.  If the things he writes is not perfect, then he doesn't want anyone to read it.   At 10 years old, my son is already scared of failing.  Being his mom, I find this frustrating. To me imperfection is the path to perfection - and the only way to get there is to keep making mistakes

Again. I wish that everyone (including myself) would listen to these words:   It is not what you know.  It is what you do with what you know.  


Below is some information about the amazing scientist who inspired the quote.  Nikola Tesla - The Master of Lighning (and an awesome subject to get kids excited about science).  The bottom photo is of Nikola Tesla sitting in his lab, performing experiments with lightning.

Tesla Universe

PBS - Tesla Master of Lightning

Tesla - The Genius Who Lit the World 

Video - The Missing Secrets of Nikola Tesla

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