We are living in the Information Age. Knowledge is everywhere, literally at the tips of our fingers everywhere we go, in every country of the world and throughout all socioeconomic conditions. We have never been freer to explore the conditions of humanity and find enlightenment. We have never had so much power and opportunity, and yet we are living short of the possibilities this access to knowledge presents to us.
We begin teaching our children about the world around them when they are very young. We teach them that the stove is hot and ice is cold. We teach them food and water can give them energy and health. We teach them that sleep is important to replenishment and stable moods. We teach them that an education will give them more opportunities in life. We try to give them the tools they’ll need to be successful.
After all, we’ve lived a bit longer than they have and we know more about the way things work than they do. We’ve been doing this for generations with relatively positive results. Most people grow up to be decent people in fairly comfortable surroundings, whatever that might be for them. When asked how we’re doing we can honestly say we’re fine.
But there’s a specter of an extraordinary life which haunts us. Whatever we truly desire, financial freedom, a joyful relationship, a free conscience, or transcendent well-being and peace, seems to be just beyond our reach. We read, we find religion, we study, we watch Ted talks, we mastermind with others, and we still fall short. We feel there’s something more, and our tools fail to get us there.
Somehow everything we’ve been taught about the building blocks of success aren’t enough. We feel helpless and fall into cycles of consumption and apathy, and tell ourselves it’s fine to just be fine. After all, being content with our lives is the hallmark of a well-adjusted person, isn’t it?
We’ve deceived ourselves. We’ve cloaked our feelings of helplessness and apathy in the language of contentment, but we haven’t really changed anything about what we are experiencing. We’re still just fine, and we tell ourselves we’re happy with that. But you are a powerfully creative human being capable of so much more than just being fine.
You have infinite paths laid out before you, each with its own adventures and learning opportunities. It’s exciting, and a little bit scary. But even the scary parts are exciting. Something in your souls speaks to your abilities to achieve. Somewhere you feel you can do anything. So, what’s stopping you?
We are conditioned from birth that we need tools to be successful. We need knowledge through proper channels of education to give us the tools we need. We just need more tools. Haven’t made it yet? Don’t worry, you just need more tools. Wait! Wait! You can’t start that path yet! You don’t have the tools you need! And we postpone our lives until we get more knowledge, more tools.
It’s a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. The cart can be good, no doubt, but useless without the power of creation that lives within the horse. Only the horse can create forward momentum. Only the horse can propel itself into a future of possibilities. The horse acts, and the cart is acted upon. We can spend our whole lives building a beautiful cart full of magnificent things and never go anywhere because we have no horsepower to initiate movement.
Humans are imaginative, creative beings. We dream of things we’ve never experienced with our senses. And when we find one we want bad enough, we come up with ways to get it. In every single example of real innovation, exploration and action led to the development of world-changing invention. Never did someone find an airplane and then wonder if it could help them fly. In a real innovative and accomplished life, the horse always comes before the cart.
Tools are inanimate objects. Things to be acted upon. Simply going out and buying a toolbox never made a birdhouse. Knowledge is just a tool, also inanimate and useless without a creator. Human beings are creators, and if all we ever do is expand our toolbox we will never get around to actually creating anything.
It’s our model of getting knowledge and then trying to find to way a use it that has us standing slightly out of reach of our real aspirations. Just decades ago this model of knowledge-getting before creation was utilitarian because knowledge wasn’t readily accessible. It made sense to get knowledge whenever you could, even if you didn’t need it yet, because there was no guarantee you’d have another opportunity.
Childhood seemed like the perfect time for this, because their day-to-day needs are taken care of by adults anyway, giving them the time they need to get knowledge. We taught our kids to be educated by reading books and learning how to solve math problems on paper so that one day they will have those tools in case they need them. We taught them to get good grades so they can go to college and get a good job. We trained them in the art of finding tools, while the creator inside of them became increasingly dormant.
Children have always fought against the system because they are creators driven into a knowledge-getting world, repulsed by tools they see no use for. Those that adapt well learn to suppress their creativity, or bend it to social norms, and survive. And we progressively get a little better as a society because some exceptional people break free of the model anyway and innovate. Innovation is the exception, not the norm.
All that is needed to correct the perpetual knowledge-getting and make innovation the norm is for us to reverse the model. And it’s finally possible to do this, to truly utilize the Information Age for everything it can do for us. Put creation first. Let imagination and experience lead to the understanding of the need for specific tools. If human history has proved anything, it’s that there’s no tool we can’t think up or find once we observe a need for it. This is innate in us, and we finally live in a world where all the knowledge we need is in the palm of our hand. We are finally free to be creators first and knowledge-getters second. We can finally put the horse before the cart!
This is incredibly important not just for us adults, but for the generation we are raising. This is the first generation that hasn’t needed to put knowledge before opportunity and experience, that hasn’t needed to put the cart before the horse. This is the first time in human history that we can reverse the model and allow the full expression of creation at a very young age without worrying if they’ll “know” enough to be successful adults.
As a parent and educator I’m relieved! And I’m excited! This period of enlightenment will free humanity to reach new rates of innovation and invention we’ve never seen before if we can just get out of our own way. These younger generations will eventually abandon our old tired ways of getting knowledge before acting and change the world, and the best thing I can do for them is to stop trying to push the same old model of education and practice creation myself.
Then we read and study to inspire and energize, and we collaborate and mastermind with others to create even more momentum. The entire human race benefits, but even better than that, each individual gets in touch with the powerful being within and we find authentic joy in being exactly who we’ve always felt we really are. We open ourselves up to new possibilities, and embrace the vulnerability that comes with it. We will fail, but we will also triumphantly succeed. We will never be just fine again, and that’s exactly as it should be.