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Part Two: Practical Steps to Get Wise

In part one of our blog series on wisdom, we defined what wisdom is and identified some cornerstone characteristics. Get caught up and check out Got Wisdom? Then come back here to read Part Two, where we’ll explore practical steps to help you Get Wise. 

Get Wise by following these practices.

Lean in
Seek out experts in your area of need or interest. Anthony Robbins says, “learning from the experts compresses time, they can teach you in five hours what it might take five months or five years to learn on your own.” Get a coach or mentor! Most people are happy to teach what they’ve learned to help another. Leaning in to wise counsel can help us avoid pitfalls and straighten our paths.

Learn – Learn not just from the wise people you know personally. Be a learner and immerse yourself in books, documentaries, seminars, education, and classes. Learn from your good experiences and from your mistakes.

Listen Listen to coworkers, supervisors, friends, significant others, and relatives when faced with conflict or when offered constructive criticism or instruction. It’s not easy to work up the courage to correct someone, so when that happens give it serious attention. What was meant by the statement? Where is the truth in it? Even if spoken in jest, was it intended to send a message? Wise people listen, discern truth, take responsibility, apologize when needed, and correct missteps.

Leap One of the greatest ways to grow in wisdom is to try new things. If your employer offers you an opportunity to work on a project, what should you do? Jump at the chance to learn, even if it doesn’t initially interest you. Try new hobbies, activities, roles and chores. Even if unappealing, you will gain new perspective and appreciation. New and hard experiences help shape our character. Don’t run from new opportunities as they can add insight and help you grow.

Chop wood and carry water.

Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
– old Zen saying

This Zen philosophy teaches us that great wisdom can be gained by small acts that might seem “below” one who is enlightened. If you want to continue to Get Wise, chop wood and carry water. And then do it again. What does “chop wood and carry water” mean in your world? Humble yourself and learn from every rudimentary assignment that is asked of you. You will continue to gain wisdom and perspective by humbling yourself to menial tasks. There is always something to be learned, even in the simple or mundane.

Unwise people are not necessarily the least educated, in fact they may be very well educated by formal standards. The problem is that the unwise have stopped being curious; they think they have reached “enlightenment” and are no longer open to learning.

The quest for wisdom is worthwhile and never-ending. 

There is a biblical proverb that says, “For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.” Wisdom is worth the effort, and it brings great rewards. Wisdom—like success—is not a destination; it’s a journey. Recognizing the difference between information and wisdom is the first step; integrating the steps outlined above is the second. Lean in to wise counsel, learn from a variety of resources, listen to the people around you, and leap at opportunities to grow. And… repeat! This is a journey that has no end. We will always be on the quest to Get Wise.


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