How to Build Your Consilience Skills

The term “consilience” was coined by William Whewell to mean a unity of knowledge—or literally, a “jumping together” of knowledge. You may be thinking that the word “consilience” sounds familiar—that’s no mistake on our part. Co-founders Dianna Anderson and Merrill Anderson named Cylient after the word “consilience.” It points towards the creation of unified knowledge by finding places where different disciplines—or worldviews—connect to create shared understanding. So, our definition of consilience is:

The unification of understanding that illuminates a shared path forward.

But what does that actually look like in the real world? How can you build your consilience skills? To build those skills toward a shared understanding, first, learn how to be curious about and appreciate other perspectives and worldviews around you.

Consilience begins with finding ways to push your thinking in new directions. One way to do that is by going to a festival of something you wouldn’t normally celebrate. Some other simple, fun ways to build your consilience skills could be:

  • Traveling in a mode you’ve never traveled before. For example, if you’ve never taken a cruise, then for your next vacation, try going on a boat, or a train.
  • Read something you wouldn’t normally pick up at the library. Used to fiction? Try reading a non-fiction book or biography. Right now, I’m reading Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One. It’s about how to change how you think, and I recommend it.
  • If you’re typically a planner, try going on a road trip with no agenda. See what happens when you don’t have a plan for the day, and experience where your curiosity takes you.
  • When you’re talking with someone with a different point of view, ask them: “What can I read to better understand your perspective? What’s a good source for me to learn more?” Once you’ve done more research, you can go back to having a more meaningful conversation.
  • Go volunteer: Seattle has a growing homelessness issue that always needs more support. Sign up to be on the search and rescue team that helps deliver food and supplies to those in need.

The key is to find something that pushes the edges of your thinking, without making you so uncomfortable that you recoil against it. The best way to open your worldview enough to find connections that you wouldn’t find otherwise is to fully immerse yourself in experiences that challenge you to explore the world outside of your comfort zone.

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