We’ve all heard it said that there’s a difference between having knowledge and having wisdom. I think it holds true, especially in the Information Age. Now more than ever, we have unprecedented access to information and education. Regardless of whether or not we go to college and get degrees, we can still learn. Education is no longer solely defined by our diplomas—and neither is the well-educated man. One definition of education is “an enlightening experience.” Other synonyms are training and guidance.
It’s time to redefine what it means to be well-educated.
Like the distinction between having knowledge and being wise, being well-educated isn’t about what we’ve learned, it’s about how we apply it.
The well-educated man embodies leadership, creativity, innovation, and new ideas. He is never bored or boring. He is who we strive to be—regardless of class, regardless of formal education, regardless of where we’ve come from or where we’re going.
These are the makings of the well-educated man.
4 Characteristics of a Well-Educated Man
1) He welcomes the exchange of ideas.
The ability to exchange ideas is one of the most overlooked and undervalued characteristics in the modern age. In an age of party line and divisions, it seems like no one can get a word in edgewise without everything deteriorating into a war of insults. The exchange of ideas, even opposing ideas, is something the educated man values. He knows that even if he doesn’t agree with someone, it’s important to listen.
He recognizes that we can grow, learn, and be bettered as a society where there are many ideas, opinions, and voices heard.
2) He believes in healthy skepticism.
A well-educated man doesn’t believe everything he hears. He approaches everything with a healthy dose of skepticism. While paranoia is not his defining trait, he makes sure to check the facts before he spreads information or makes important decisions. He never rushes in based on emotions or singular sources of information.
Rather, he waits to verify sources, hear from different perspectives, and weighs for himself what is true and what is not. He consumes information thoughtfully, carefully, and forms informed, rounded opinions. For the educated man, critical thinking is invaluable!
3) He can keep a conversation going.
Have you ever been around someone who just can’t seem to hold a good conversation? They can handle small talk, tell a few jokes, and stay on the surface, but once they’ve exhausted their repertoire of conversation there’s not much there. A well-educated man can keep the conversation lively, entertaining, and engaging.
That doesn’t necessarily mean throwing around facts and anecdotes—it’s more than just having a list of topics and stories ready. It means he can read cues and knows when his company is interested and when they’re not. It means he can talk about deeper, more important things. He can wax philosophical. He can talk politics and religion and the “taboos” of life and do it with respect and tact.
The educated man knows how to talk about what matters to the people he’s with. And most importantly, he’s learned the value of being a good listener. He knows how to make the people who share in the conversation feel equal and valued.
4) He thinks big.
Every man has to ask himself this question: am I thinking big enough? The well-educated man doesn’t waste his time thinking small. Ambition, innovation, and big-picture thinking are all a part of the package. Obstacles are met with creative solutions, challenges are met with enthusiasm, and goals are set above and beyond the expected. He has high expectations for himself and for everyone around him.
With the bar set high, he strives only for success.
From knowing to doing. Remember, being educated is more than knowing a lot of things. It’s learning. It’s growing more in wisdom, integrity, and character. To be a well-educated man is to see more in the world around you—more in the people, more in yourself. You see opportunities, potential, and value. And a well-educated man never, ever wastes potential.