I’ve often heard, as I’m sure you have, that who you know is more important in life than what you know, that the right connections are more important than the right answers. There certainly is some truth to this statement, but I think the answer to the question of which is more important, connections or knowledge, is better understood with relation to our ultimate goals, the end result we are trying to achieve.
When the end goal is power and money, it may well be true that connections trump knowledge, but this leads to the question of whether the pursuit of power and money is the right end goal. Especially when pursued with the notion that knowledge is not valuable. Achieving a status of authority without knowledge, or with limited knowledge, may prove to be reckless, harmful, and possibly dangerous.
On the other hand, having knowledge without connections can lead to a situation where that knowledge cannot be put to its best use, the time and effort acquiring knowledge not being applied to its fullest effect.
In the end, connections and knowledge are both just means and not ends, both tools to achieve ultimate goals and not just goals to be achieved. This conclusion is no new revelation but is an ancient one. Like the answer to most questions posed as a binary option, the best answer is neither. Neither connections nor knowledge is better than the other; neither can stand alone. Both are needed to achieve our ultimate ends and our ultimate goals.
What does this mean for our career? What is the action plan?
We should set short term goals in both realms of knowledge and connections, avoiding the trap of obsessing on either as an end goal, always realizing the bigger picture, that both are just short term goals, that both are means to a greater final goal, that ultimate goal being. . .