When discussing wisdom many have a mental picture of a monastery where they meditate all day. They may picture a mountain retreat where wise leaders commune with nature. It would be great if there was such a place you could go and gain wisdom by osmosis.
Wisdom, however, is not mystical, but rather a process of learning from life experiences and listening to the insights of others. Gaining wisdom is not a solitary exercise but rather done in the midst of life and working with others. It takes humility and a willingness to ask difficult questions such as: “Why did that not succeed?” “What could I have done differently to produce a better result?” “Who could have shed insight on this situation or project that I did not reach out to?”
How do you access others’ perspectives and wisdom? Begin by surrounding yourself with people who make good decisions and possess strong values. People who consistently make wise decisions have learned from prior situations and are disciplined to do the right thing. They apply their knowledge to new situations and therefore make good decisions more often than others.
Also, people who live by strong values will benefit from eliminating decisions that are not in line with their values and typically not sound. Values help us to avoid mistakes and to match our walk with our talk. Values form the basis of trust and strong relationships which are key to being wise and learning from others.
Finally, we must prioritize and be available to invite others into our busy schedules. Too often, leaders spend time in their offices hoping no one bothers them so they can get work done. What they fail to realize is that doing things in isolation takes twice as long to accomplish. Why? Because they are relying only on their own insights. They lose out on others’ wisdom that could help them avoid mistakes and fast track their progress. Wisdom is a combination of doing the right things but also having the knowledge and insight to choose the correct approach. When was the last time you met with someone just to learn from their insights? Time with others who are wise is not wasted, rather it is an investment in wisdom that will fuel your work and life.
Begin investing in learning, relationships and the value driven journey to wisdom.