Chapter 14

Practice and theory may not diverge

What prejudice do you associate with the word “theory”? And with the word “practice”? Abandon your precon­ceived notions! You need both theory and practice. This is similar to hiking. A good map will get you to your goal. But you must be able to read maps and be physi­cally fit. Those who constantly improve their intellectual skills along with their practical possi­bi­lities are investing correctly by investing in themselves.

Do not let yourself be controlled by intellectual
arrogance or egocentric pragmatism!

Every young person has the oppor­tunity to go to college in this country. Some people complete an appren­ti­ceship before starting their studies. This often is a very useful combi­nation, since theory and practice go hand in hand. It is wrong to turn them into opposites, since they draw meaning and purpose from each other. The profes­sional world, which is broken down into tasks, has often resulted in theory and practice becoming an “either-or”: Brain workers – trade­speople, those in the offices – those in the factories, the world of thinking – the world of work, white-collar workers – blue-collar workers. White-collar workers generally enjoy greater prestige.

It is useful for theory and practice not to go separate ways when it comes to shaping your life. Imbalances like being clumsy or the inability to under­stand a design drawing will hold you back. If you learned during your upbringing to value a theore­tical focus on things more highly than on practical ones, you should correct this imbalance. Otherwise, thinking and acting will repea­tedly, if not perma­nently, be at odds, you remain perceptive during analyses but inept when it comes to taking action.

An inability to translate ideas into action tempts you to delude yourself. Your expec­ta­tions become unrea­listic. You establish a defensive stance for your self-confi­dence to not suffer: You’re just not talented in practical things – you’re clumsy – and you are not really made for such menial labor anyway. On the other hand, there is the osten­ta­tious self-assurance of indivi­duals who see themselves as hands-on people without even a hint of theory. They are used to getting their way and have no scruples. If something were to go wrong, they just try again. This means that they are all about self-cente­redness and vitality – until a crash stops the bulldozer.

Acquire expertise and develop practical skills!

People who discover deficits on the theore­tical or practical side of their actions should not accept these deficits but try to find out how to make up for this short­coming. Anything else results in a one-sided perspective of one’s surroun­dings, and to misun­derstan­dings and inappro­priate assess­ments. Developing a theory means processing your own and others’ insights and experi­ences such that you can devise approaches for action from them. The intellectual under­standing of reality has the advantage of saving considerable time compared to the trial-and-error approach.

Thus, people do not skip trying something out but rather include it as an experiment, test series, or testing program. Our ability to think is enlisted to examine the complexity of life in order to derive approaches for acting from them.

Examining life from a theore­tical perspective gives you expertise. Dealing with reality theore­ti­cally creates the prere­qui­sites for targeted action:

  • expanding the horizons of your knowledge and scope for action
  • using knowledge and experience for developing concepts
  • making plans and imple­menting them.

Developing practical skills means staying grounded. Carpenters must have a feeling for wood, while metal workers must have a feeling for working with metal. Even if in the future computers will be a main tool for working and machines will work the workpieces, the craft­smanship with the material comes first: planning, sawing, drilling, and filing. Otherwise, the sensory dimension would be missing, without which any theory is mere theory.

Do sports to balance out your work life

Depending on which profession you work in, you will have to do sports to balance out your work life. If you mainly work with theore­tical tasks, you should compensate for this with more practical work. There are countless options to do so in today’s DIY age. If you mostly work on creating things with your hands, you should also have fun with intellectual activities.

Theore­ti­cians must ask themselves:

  • What can I do to translate my knowledge into action?
  • How do I manage to bring about a solution after the analysis?

Action-driven people have to ask themselves:

  • What should I think about before getting started?
  • How can I take advantage of others’ knowledge and experience?

You should develop approaches to connect thinking and action in your life as closely as possible which help you:

  • collect and prepare information
  • develop concepts from ideas and notions
  • create project plans
  • record the experi­ences you have made and learn from them.

A sense of reality can be developed with useful training programs. Examples: “make furniture,” “sew clothes,” “craft toys,” “create a kitchen garden,” and much more.

Don’t just work on these kinds of projects on your own, but also in groups. This is a win-win experience for everyone, since this is the only way to share insights and experi­ences with others. When parents involve their children in these kinds of projects, it creates an awesome learning process for everyone. And this allows children learn while playing how to handle life with the combined theoretical/practical approach to handling life. They will make their way from the “Let’s go mentality” of our childhood sponta­neity towards planned actions and they learn how to use their head.

Identify the founda­tions of your experience!

Seeing life as a process for insights and imple­men­tation ultim­ately means living what you think and rethinking what you live. Our expres­sions of life involve thoughts, words, and deeds. Perso­nality develo­pment aims to achieve the best possible way to align thinking, talking, and action over time.

The order is important: think first and then talk or act. Orient your actions toward your own thinking and not toward subcon­scious habits or the whispering of others or pressure from your environment. In addition, you should check every­thing you hear or read for precon­ceived notions. Otherwise, you will quickly fall prey to others who want to manipulate us to benefit themselves – whether it is as a buyer, voter, or employee.

People who live with alert senses and a basic attitude of asking questions will gain new insights nearly every day. People on expedi­tions and archaeo­lo­gists work metho­di­cally to increase their level of knowledge. They first record and document the situation, paying attention to even the most unassuming circum­s­tances. This is because they know that things or events usually only occur as with the tip of the iceberg. You will rarely see the issue as whole with its diverse inter­re­la­tions. The issue itself only appears after a process that is often protracted.

The methods used by the resear­chers are ideally suited for finding your way in your life. The events of a day offer a plethora of indica­tions pointing to hidden phenomena, insightful explana­tions, and enriching inter­pre­ta­tions. Pick out two or three processes, describe them in as much detail as possible, compare them with similar events, ask about the causes and effects, and pursue any thought that comes to mind.

In the beginning, many things may appear obvious to you and you will ask the following questions: “What’s the point? I know all of that!” Don’t let yourself be diverted from your intention to advance into unknown terri­tories. Any journey takes you through places you are already familiar with. But then it starts: “I never noticed that! Maybe this actually means something completely different! I will pursue that further!”

Your thoughts, words, and deeds determine your quality of life

We will never be able to get a handle on our thoughts beyond certain concen­tration phases perma­nently. But the more thinking we do, the more we will come to find out that we by no means are at the mercy of our thoughts but that we can shape them as well. The software for the whole of a person is written in one’s head in thoughts, words, and deeds. There is an excellent tool for developing this software: an insights diary – as a supplement to your events diary.

Resear­ching your social environment not only includes events that you have heard about from other people or media in addition to ones that you were involved in immediately yourself. What interesting things have you read in the newspaper, a magazine, or a book, hear on the radio, or seen on a screen? There are starting points for your insight processes everywhere.

Over time, you will gain more and more insights that will enlighten your life. And that will make you happy. You can enhance your personal insights by reading the state­ments of others. World literature is full of great thoughts and examples of life that show us a flash of wisdom. Take advantage of this infor­mation for yourself and keep an insights diary.

All of this will ultim­ately also increase your career oppor­tu­nities. More and more companies are breaking down their division of work between mainly theore­tical and mainly practical work. Theory is also encroa­ching into production facilities. Employees there also require the capacity for abstract thought. For this reason, unskilled or semi-skilled workers have incre­asingly fewer job oppor­tu­nities. Having a business-oriented combi­nation of brain work and manual work in the dynamic group colla­bo­ration of the employees as well as the strict orien­tation of actions toward reality gives employees the crucial leg up.

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