It is a lot easier to become prosperous in today’s world–thanks to the immense number of choices and successful people willing to teach us how they did it. Conversely, it is also a lot harder as our brains become filled to overflow with all the material being thrown at us 24/7. I talk in The Moneylove Manifesto about what I call The Law Of Subtraction–the need to remove extraneous thoughts and ideas and information from the congested traffic pouring into our heads. And I use one of my major mentors in this area to illustrate the point, Arthur Conan Doyle, in the persona of his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes. Here’s the quote I used, just one of many on the same subject throughout the Sherlock Holmes library:
“The mind is like an attic, you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool
takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which
might be useful to him gets crowded out.”
And I was reminded of this when a friend sent me the following joke that was selected as the funniest joke in the world by over 40,000 people online. It speaks to the same point:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal
and a bottle of red, they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some
hours later, Holmes woke up, nudged his friend and said, “Watson, I want
you to look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” “I see millions and
millions of stars.” Sherlock asked, “What does that tell you?”
After a minute or so of pondering, Watson said “Astronomically, it tells
me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of
planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I
deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three in the morning.
Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small
and insignificant. Metereologically, I suspect that we will have a
beautiful day today. What does it tell you?”
Holmes was silent for about 30 seconds and said, “Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!”
This also reminded me of one of Holmes’ comments in one of the books in which he asserted he knew nothing at all about astronomy because he couldn’t find a use for that information in his life and his work, so he never studied it.
A useful practice is to make a list of what you really need to know to achieve the goals you desire. Gone are the days when knowing a little about a lot of things was a good path to success. This is the era of the expert, and you can become an expert in any specific area you choose. But being picky, being selective, being discerning about the knowledge you let in is vital in this process. And you must be willing to shut out even interesting, useful information if it doesn’t serve your primary purpose. There just isn’t enough time to know it all, so you must make choices. Even in selecting whom you want to learn from. I see people downloading internet marketing courses from several different “Internet Gurus” at the same time, and trying to go back and forth. In this instance, more is not better, just confusing. Choose a teacher the way you would choose a mate for life, very very carefully. But I would also use my Ninety Day Trial Period strategy. If you don’t learn what you want to know within the first ninety days, it is time to move on to another teacher.
And no matter what information you take in, no matter how profound or entertaining it is, make certain you don’t take in so much you won’t even notice when your tent’s been stolen.