What is your definition of wisdom?

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens. Jimi Hendrix

My “long read” for you yesterday was on: “Transferring Enthusiasm“, inspired by insight from a long conversation with a wise friend. Another wise friend is Chip Conley, author of “Wisdom and Work” and, like my friend who inspired yesterday’s post, is both wise and also deeply curious about wisdom in many forms.

So, what is your own definition? Let’s explore together.

To consider our definition of wisdom, let us first ask a few questions.

What is Wisdom NOT?

I reviewed this “layers of learning” model in that post yesterday on “Transferring Enthusiasm”. From this, Wisdom is beyond Knowledge.

Sometimes we (ok, I own this one too!) allow our ego to feel that we must show or tell information and knowledge for us each to feel valuable, to feel valued. Gosh, I am full of random information, but beyond that being fun for my sons to be amused at, knowledge is not wisdom.

What is possible of us if we let go of ego?

If one reason that stops us going beyond knowledge is our ego, then what do we need to be conscious of to let go of ego?

Three thoughts to BE. Brilliant, Aware, Humble.

First, “Be Brilliant

You know those people who have words like “guru”, “expert”, “master” in their online biography? Yup, skip them, that’s ego at play.

Don’t tell people you are brilliant, let your own brilliance shine through what you do and your presence. Actions speak louder than words. Oh, and when you are being fully present and acting in the way that is naturally you, your unique brilliance will shine through.

As the saying goes, be yourself, everyone else is already taken.

Second, “Be Aware“.

One of the things I sometimes find difficult is to avoid giving opinions and sharing my knowledge. It is indeed part ego, but also, I’ve grown to learn, part that I truly love learning and sharing what I’ve learned (eg this daily blog is all about sharing learnings!).

So, I have a blended approach now. I always have the context, the purpose, of supporting others in finding their truth, so when I share knowledge it is from a place of inspiring ideas, propagating their thoughts etc.

From that, then, before we share knowledge, bring awareness to what is having us wish to do so. It is really in service of the other person, or are we doing it to “show off”, ie to allow our ego to reign over us?

Third, “Be Humble, one of the four characteristics core to #OpenLeadership. Bring humility, open-ness, curiosity to every conversation, then not only will you learn from others, but, in that space, bringing this energy will let your ego depart the scene and also allow space for your own wisdom to flow forth, as with my friend and their insight the other day.

Wisdom can depend on the Context

I feel I could give several definitions of Wisdom, so perhaps it depends on the context you are using the word itself?

To illustrate, here are six different definitions of Wisdom from a recent daily “Wisdom Well” post from Chip Conley:

“To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”
Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”
Marilyn von Savant

“Wisdom is what lasts after an experience ends.”
Joan Chittister

“The closer you get to wisdom, the more of your own shadow you see and the more of other people’s shadow, and the more you realize how much we need each other.”
Richard Rohr

“Knowledge speaks. Wisdom listens.”
Jimi Hendrix

“Wisdom is whatever is left after you’ve run out of your opinions.”
Chip Conley

What is your definition of Wisdom?

I’d love you to share with me your definition.

Perhaps reply to this post on Twitter or LinkedIn, or if you’d like, let’s get on a call so I can listen, I love to listen.

Oh, and what’s mine?:

Wisdom is what you release when you let go of knowing

Let’s talk

My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.


Also published on Medium.

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