The Five Levels of Knowledge

Knowledge comes in five levels:

  1. Story
  2. Theory
  3. Know-how
  4. Mastery
  5. Wisdom

You achieve each level at a different stage in life. Your level is an outcome of the time spent, intensity of experience, and dept of understanding of the subject matter at hand.

Story stands for the stories we learn from our culture, family, friends, and colleagues. It’s an account of an event that happened to the storyteller or his/her immediate circle, told through their subjective (that is, human) perspective.

Theory is the type of knowledge you can gain from attending a lecture, reading a book, or listening to a podcast. Theory broadens your horizons and opens your mind to ideas that were previously unknown by or unimportant to you. But it can only get to you a point.

Know-how is the product of experience. You acquire experiential knowledge by doing. Very often, doing means having to overcome difficulties and solve problems that aren’t really addressed in theory. To develop a mobile app requires more than knowing how to write code.

Mastery comes when story, theory, and know-how intersect in years of practical experience. Mastery is when you become intuitively good at doing something. To others, what you do and the sheer way you do it seems effortless and easy. Only until they try to do it for themselves.

Wisdom comes last. And very few of us reach it. Often, it we do so for a wider category of subject matters, i.e. natural science, or information technology, or marketing and advertising. Wisdom is when knowledge and experience meet good judgement. It is knowledge that isn’t limited by time.

Wherever you are, don’t stop learning. It takes wisdom to understand just how little one knows indeed.