The dictionary defines wisdom as the “state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action and having sagacity, discernment, or insight.” Wisdom is also knowledge of what is proper or reasonable, and is gained by having many experiences in life.
The famous King Solomon stated that wisdom is more profitable than silver, yields better returns than gold and is more precious than rubies. Solomon’s perspective of wisdom is my favorite.
Why is wisdom desirable and so valuable? There definitely seems to be a positive correlation between wisdom and wealth, respect as well as fame.
How does one get wisdom? Can it be found in textbooks or taught in schools? Is it found in experiences or is it passed on? Gaining wisdom is a combination of all the above and a little bit more.
Want to get more of this precious entity called wisdom? See these time tested and demonstrable principles of gaining more wisdom.
1. Desire and seek it
This is so obvious that it is often overlooked, but the first step to gaining wisdom is to desire it and see its high value. It is pretty much the same way as a merchant values fine pearls and seeks them out. Desire puts you in the state of mind that propels you to seek wisdom and therefore create an enabling environment for wisdom to thrive. Napoleon Hill rightly said, “Desire is the starting point of all achievement. Not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” Desire therefore leads to the right action.
2. Get out of the cave
In the Allegory of the Cave, wisdom is depicted by Plato as getting out of the cave and coming to see things as “they really are.” To gain wisdom, entrepreneurs and businesses must constantly step out of their world and study how people are behaving, and how they respond to various stimuli both in the business field and their personal lives. Observation in all its simplicity is only practiced consistently by a few.
3. Intentional thinking
The more we think, the smarter we get. There is a difference between thinking and worrying. Worrying dwells excessively on the problem and gets stuck in the paralysis of analysis. Thinking puts the problem and the solution on the same path. Deliberate thinking is single minded, highly focused and goal oriented. It is training the mind to put a particular subject or situation under rigorous mental scrutiny. Thinking for it be effective therefore needs to be deliberate and disciplined, with time set aside in our daily routine to just think. Of course, we all occasionally get those “A-ha” moments. However, deliberate thinking produces wisdom and leads to creativity. The more we make thinking a habit, the wiser we get. Edward de Bono said, “Intelligence is something we are born with. Thinking is a skill that must be learned.”
4. Be insanely curious.
This naturally follows from a habit of intentional thinking. Curiosity may have killed the proverbial cat, but it is the fuel of great innovators and brand champions. Leonardo Da Vinci attributed most of his genius to his sense of curiosity. He often roamed the countryside, asking lots of questions and searching for answers to things he did not understand. “These questions and other strange phenomena engaged my thought throughout my life.” Curiosity leads you to asking why, which in turn leads to answers, produces great results and adds to wisdom. Apples have always been falling off trees. However it was only the great and insanely curious English scientist Isaac Newton in 1666 who asked why. Before then, no one had asked any questions. His curiosity and study led to the discovery of the now famous law of gravity.
5. Have a mission mindset & sense of purpose
Plato, the first Utopian thinker, wanted to reform society. He created a special school called the Academy with a singular purpose to create not celebrities but great thinkers and ‘guardians’ who would reform and transform society. Steve Jobs wanted to change the way the world used technology, and in the process make “a dent in the universe.” Bill Gates had a vision of putting a computer in every home. Ted Turner was laughed at when he first thought of an all-news TV channel. For such a tiny woman, Mother Teresa had a big vision to change the world, one person at a time, working with poorest of the poor. We all know about Martin Luther King who had a dream that one day.
We all applaud these individuals and credit them with great wisdom. When you have a mission bigger than yourself, a strong sense of purpose and an unflinching reformist agenda, your wisdom level increases. “We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon,” said Konrad Adenauer.
Wisdom then is the deep inner knowing. Wisdom is made up of what we know and what we do not know and embracing the gaps in between. We can all grow in wisdom and, with wisdom, we can each create our own special place under the sky.