Wisdom Rot

Remember that great advice you got ten years ago that is entirely irrelevant to your career and you wonder why you're still following it?  Remember that industry that would be perfect for your career that is now a smoking economic ruin of failed dreams, bad ideas, and lawsuits against the accounting firms?

Or do you remember that piece of advice that stuck with you since childhood?  That helpful concept that you got from someone much older than you that got it from some else?

We get experiences and advice that are useful for our lives, and useful at best for a limited time.  Some things are seemingly forever – some lessons are not.

The fact that some lessons are not applicable forever due to a changing economy, changing life, etc. is what I christen "Wisdom Rot."  Some great wisdom isn't good forever.

Wisdom Rot can set in any time – technical changes, career changes (in that the wisdom is no longer relevant to you), political changes, economic changes, etc.  Two years ago I was told cold resume mailings were useless – now I'm hearing they're part of a good long term plan.  Social Media like we have now wasn't relevant a decade ago, while video production abilities have changed the market from twenty years ago.

It's necessary in your life and career to look for signs of Wisdom Rot – what is it you were told is no longer true or relevant.  You may find yourself operating under thoughts and ideas that are no longer relevant – and haven't been relevant for some time.  It's easy to miss this because we don't think about it, and because we've adopted some ideas as the truth.

It's also important to do so because you'll also find what is still relevant in your life – more relevant or even timeless wisdom.  A good review of presumptions and touchstones in our life is worth it.

I recall at one time it was conventional wisdom that video games were for teen-and-twenty something men.  This is long passed.  I recall when computers were "just a fad" and now my mother uses a computer to track a memorabilia collection.

In those of us in fannish and geeky areas, where inaccurate stereotypes, advanced technology, deep passions, and fast-moving changnes come together, we're probably more vulnerable to wisdom rot than others.  Accounting hasn't changed that much, but anime distribution and social media certainly has.

Look out for Wisdom Rot.

– Steven Savage