I was recently asked a question that struck me as missing the foundations of what wisdom really was and how wisdom, inside each of us, is derived. If you're struggling in your work life, in your career progress, in trying to get ahead, in trying to master the role you're in, then the answer to this question most definitely applies.
The question I received was "can wisdom come from one's own knowledge, or through the education of someone else?"
This for me completely missed the point of what wisdom really is...
And it begs these Inspired Career & Goal questions for us all to ask ourselves:
How wise am I in the things I value in life?
Am I interested in increasing my wisdom, if I knew the equation to follow?
How can I leverage this concept of wisdom to leap forward in my work and career?
Wisdom is Tangible But Often Elusive
Wisdom is a tangible thing, if we're willing to follow this simple equation. But first we must understand that which is wisdom.
Wisdom comes from two things:
Education + Experience = Wisdom
Wisdom is a combination of education and experience.
Education is the learning, the schooling, the understanding of a thing. It may come from the information provided by others in a story, or a lecture. It may also come from our studies as students of the world. From the books we read and videos we watch. From our observations and in our discussions with others. Education also comes from questioning everything, and not simply believing the first thing that you hear, see or read. Education comes from studying the many histories of the world, and knowing there may be more than one version of them. It comes in discussions with the people we work with, and the people we work for, in understanding their problems, and in so doing, understanding how we can work together to solve them. Education takes time and it takes patience. It takes an open ear and an open heart.
Experience is the act of. It is putting your education, either consciously or not, into practice. It is the exercise of learned things in action. Experience is YOU in action. And through continuous practice through your experiences, we begin to gain wisdom, but only as long as education was part of the equation. Sometimes we experience before we have education. In fact, most often this is case. We are put in situations where we are not prepared for an experience. In those instances, the best we can do is take away our questions and begin our education. In life, most often we don't truly understand the significance of a moment until later, after it has passed. When that moment arrives, there is a good chance we were able to add education and experience together to find some truth and eventual wisdom. A meaning behind the experience.
Working Hard Adds Experience, But Don't Forget About Who Your Customer Is...
Working hard adds experience but it's not the entire equation. What do I mean by this? I referencing all of us who have been guilty of putting in hard work, but not taking the time to understand our end customers needs. You see, in every interaction when we work, there is a customer and there is the worker. The worker's job is to provide that thing (a service, product, spreadsheet, widget, ladder, or whatever it might be) to their customer. Most often though, we all fail to spend the time needed with our customers. And so, we produce x and soon realize, it was created without education and experience, and therefore lacked true wisdom. So setup 1on1 discussions, setup side-by-sides, and get to know your customer, before you give them that thing that they never actually asked for. In such, you'll gain in wisdom, and so will the quality of your work, which will cascade into many great things.
And a side note on travel, and apparent wisdom...
Traveling adds Experience, but not Wisdom
We can be well travelled, but if we no nothing in understanding that of the people’s culture, or history, or knowledge, then we will still lack wisdom. Take for instance destination vacations, where we isolate ourselves from the outside culture. Not much learning going on there, and that's ok sometimes, but if every vacation includes an all you can drink swim-up bar, you may be missing one of the greatest joys in travel, and that is learning about the locals lives in face to face conversations. The beginnings of wisdom.
This in my humble opinion, is why we should spend less time taking selfies when we travel, and more time reading about the places we visit, while we visit, and speaking to the locals there, whenever we are blessed with such an opportunity.
Until next time, stay wise, and stay inspired.