Are we playing ‘pass the parcel’ with wisdom?


What do you do, when you read a fantastic, inspiring, profound or motivational quote on social media?

I’ve noticed that social media has become a vehicle for some really powerful messages. Some of humanity’s most insightful and impactful pearls of wisdom are being circulated on a daily basis. We now have unprecedented access to some of the history’s greatest thinking. We don’t need to study a doctorate in philosophy to tap into the musings of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Soren Kierkegaard or Seneca. We don’t need to pick through the works of Shakespeare to find the gems in his thinking, or to study the life of Einstein to uncover his wisdom either. We’ve got direct access into the minds of the world greatest athletes and sports coaches. Their quotes arrive directly to our mobile phones… many times a day. Finding an inspirational ‘thought for the day’, spiritual messages, or tips on how to be happy, are all just a click away.

Here’s one example that I picked up today, from NBA legend Michael Jordan (you may have seen it before).

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that’s why I succeed”.

It’s a fantastic message!

But what do we do with all of this wisdom?

What actually happens when we see these quotes, tips and thoughts for the day? Do we actually engage with them? Does our life change? Does our thinking change? Do we act on what we read? Or, does life carry on regardless?

Do we read them and think, “That’s a great quote”… and that’s it… nothing else? Do we even remember that ‘great quote’ 30 seconds later?

Do we hit ‘share’ or ‘like’ or ‘retweet’, in the hope that someone else will benefit from this powerful wisdom? Or, do we just share this great quote in the hope that we’ll gain more followers?

How many times do we actually take time to really consider what this quote means and then reflect on our own life? Do we follow this fantastic advice? How could we adopt this wisdom and make a meaningful change in our own life? 

When you read Michael Jordan’s quote, do you reflect on your own perception of failure? What happens when you are presented with a tough challenge; one that might lead to failure? What if you risked failing publically? Do you adopt Michael Jordan’s approach and understand that it is a potential route to success, or do you shy away from it? What will you do next time you’re presented with this choice?

In our modern world, were life flies by in the blink of an eye, has social media become a ‘pass the parcel’ of quotes, thoughts, insights, reflections and advice? Are we simply passing it on? Of course, sharing value with others is great (I’m not advocating that we stop sharing). But, are we missing the real opportunity here? In a world where sharing a message requires no more than the tap of a screen, are we missing the opportunity to gain the true value of this wisdom and the chance to change our own thinking?