The Man Who Knew Everything

We use stories to break down obstacles to learning…..

The stories that we have used in this series are meant to teach us that we are ultimately responsible for our actions and ourselves. We have to take responsibility for our decisions as well as our miscalculations.
We are told that we must exceed our limitations. But in order to exceed your limitations you must first know what your limitations are.
These stories will help us become more aware of ourselves – our strengths and weaknesses, our values and beliefs, our actions and reactions – because once you become aware of something you can learn to manage it better.

Leadership competencies are leadership & management skills and behaviours that contribute to superior performance. By using a competency-based approach to leadership, organisations can better identify and develop their next generation of leaders. While some leadership competencies are essential to all firms, an organisation should also define what leadership attributes are distinctive to the particular organisation to create competitive advantage. However, skills needed for a particular position may change depending on the specific leadership level in the organisation. By using a competency approach, organisations can determine what positions at which levels require specific competencies. Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours that lead to successful performance.

The following stories look at some of the leadership and management competencies (“The Value-Added Employee,” by Edward J. Cripe and Richard S. Mansfield, Copyright 2002 by Workitect Inc) that are necessary in today’s modern and successful organisation.

Once upon a time there was a very very intelligent man. He knew everything. He knew all the formulae, he knew all the theories, and he had read all the books, hell – he’d written half the books. He knew everything! So you can imagine how surprised he was when he heard people talking about another man as ‘wise and great’. The intelligent man decided to go and find out for himself what this other man knew that he didn’t!
So he made an appointment – for 1.15 in the afternoon – his lunch hour – to go and see the old sage. And arriving on the dot of time he said to the wise old man ‘so I hear you are very very wise. Tell me – what exactly is it that makes you so wise? And please try and be brief. I have about 20 minutes before I need to get back to work.
The old sage smiled at the intelligent man and without saying a word he began to pour out a cup of tea. He poured till the cup was full but he didn’t stop there. He continued to pour as the cup over flowed, the saucer over flowed, and the tea was all over the floor. But still he continued to pour. The intelligent man who was watching looked on in horror – this was the stupidest thing he had ever seen. The old sage didn’t even know when a cup was full and yet people were comparing the two of them.
Finally unable to take it the intelligent man jumped up and said ‘stop for goodness sake. That cup is full. It cannot take any more, can’t you see?’
And the wise old sage said ‘that is the state of your mind. It is also too full to take anything more. You need to make space for new knowledge’

The Man who knew everything | tharoor associates

Managing Change Competency: The ability to demonstrate support for innovation and for organisational changes needed to improve the organisation’s effectiveness; initiating, sponsoring, and implementing organisational change; helping others to successfully manage organisational change.

  • Employee Behaviors
  • Personally develops a new method or approach.
  • Proposes new approaches, methods, or technologies.
  • Develops better, faster, or less expensive ways to do things.

Manager/Leader Behaviours

  • Works cooperatively with others to produce innovative solutions.
  • Takes the lead in setting new business directions, partnerships, policies or procedures.
  • Seizes opportunities to influence the future direction of an organisational unit or the overall business.
  • Helps employees to develop a clear understanding of what they will need to do differently, as a result of changes in the organisation.
  • Implements or supports various change management activities (e.g., communications, education, team development, coaching).
  • Establishes structures and processes to plan and manage the orderly implementation of change.
  • Helps individuals and groups manage the anxiety associated with significant change.
  • Facilitates groups or teams through the problem-solving and creative-thinking processes leading to the development and implementation of new approaches, systems, structures, and methods.

Flexibility: Openness to different and new ways of doing things; willingness to modify one’s preferred way of doing things.

  • Is able to see the merits of perspectives other than his/her own.
  • Demonstrates openness to new organisational structures, procedures, and technology.
  • Switches to a different strategy when an initially selected one is unsuccessful.
  • Demonstrates willingness to modify a strongly held position in the face of contrary evidence.

Wise man/ intelligent man – The most common misconception is that if there is an environment of teaching it will automatically lead to learning. In actual fact our brains are made up of layers of preconceptions and ideas and thoughts and for any new learning to take place all of these ideas and thoughts have to shift and change just a little bit to make room for the new thought. It is not easy and yet it is essential so we all need to learn how to work at it.

To me this story is about understanding how to accept change. New information only becomes knowledge when you make room for it in your head.


  • Viswadeep

    I put my thoughts as follows:

    1. Intelligence is related to ability of the mind to concentrate and respond to a situation. It is not dependent on the experience,etc.

    2. Being Wise is related to Wisdom which is attained more by way of experience.

    3. Mind is the only matter in the universe which doesn’t have any limitations and keeps working continuously.There is nothing called unlearning and it can expand without any limits.The only thing on which it is dependent is the physical condition and ability of the body.

  • Abhishek Sengupta

    I think books can make you learner and knowledgeable, to become wise you need to have experience and knowledge.

  • Nupur Roy

    According to me wisdom and intelligence are two very different things intelligence can be god gifted and is something one is born with but wisdom is attend with the course of time and a curiosity to know more, knowing formulas and theories is not knowing life, life is way more complex and doesn’t have a pattern hence cannot be expressed theories or solved with formulas the modesty to understand this, is wisdom

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