Friday, September 25, 2009

What is Wisdom?

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What exactly is "wisdom"? It seems this is another one of those words that we use but very few can clearly define. It's almost a word from an older time that we don't fully comprehend anymore.

So, let's do some research...

According to Wolfram Alpha I found the following definitions:
1) good | the quality of being prudent and sensible
2) know how | ability to apply knowledge or experience or understanding or common sense and insight
3) mental object | accumulated knowledge or erudition or enlightenment
4) trait | the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight
That's great but for the total understanding, the gestalt, you must understand how all 4 definitions relate to each other.

First and foremost, wisdom is the quality of being prudent and sensible. You can't be a wacko, lunatic, S.O.B. and be considered "wise." The first measure of wisdom is prudence.

Secondly, the ability to apply knowledge/experience/common sense to the challenges that face us are what I call practical wisdom. It's knowing how to use your past as a tool to achieve your goals now.

Next, you have to actually accumulate that knowledge/experience/common sense. That means you can't just rely on theories, case studies, simulators and lectures. Instead you need hands-on, real life, dirt-under-the-fingernails experience. It is the insight of someone that has been there and done that which truly matters.

And finally, wisdom is the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight. Of all 4 definitions, I think this one is the closest to the total truth. Those who are truly wise use their knowledge and experience, in a common sense way, to achieve the insights that help them solve challenges every day. And they do it consistently too.

So, before we can consider ourselves truly wise, we must:
  1. Not act like an total idiot.
  2. Actually have real life experience and knowledge.
  3. Apply that knowledge and experience.
  4. Do it every day.
Obviously, people can be wise. But can a business be wise? Is your business wise? Let me know in the comments below.

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