The Oxford Dictionary defines wisdom as “The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.”  Ok, but how do you get there?

There are a lot of perceived smart people out there.  Is that what’s most important?  Relative to applying knowledge to wisdom, one’s intelligence and their ability to understand, learn, and retain is, of course, important, therefore yes, it is good to be smart

However, being smart in of itself ain’t the answer.  Rather, one’s desire to learn and understand will take you much farther – i.e. practicing wisdom in applying your smartness is the answer.

So, how do you become wise, or better, how do you be wise when you don’t have the grey hairs of experience?

Well, one way is consulting the village grey hairs…those business elders that have the reflective experience to look back, coach on lessons learned, and council through their experience.  Seek a mentor.

I buy my mentor lunch monthly.  We talk about life, friendship, family, and some business.  I am fortunate to also have a Father who is a coach, mentor, friend, and of course father as well.  I cherish our glass of wine and conversation at every opportunity.  During these moments, be it my father, a mentor, or anyone, I pay attention to learn because I’m interested, curious, and know that I don’t know

Seeking out the village elders is one component, but you have to go deeper first to make it matter.

Being wise is a function of mindset.  A must read is “Mindset” by Carol Dweck.  Learn and understand the difference between a growth and fixed mindset.  With a growth mindset, consciously or unconsciously, you seek out the journey and desire to learn more, listen more, and understand you are not limited to one state of mind.  Those with a fixed mindset live in a fixed state of mind, not always willing to listen and learn, especially identified when you know all the answers…  Mindset is subconscious until you acknowledge it and make it a conscious practice – that’s the game changer.

Socrates, who is a champion of the growth mindset said, “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”  Wonder, or rather, curiosity can be the breath between instantly reacting versus listening to act first.  It is where wisdom leads, and being smart is listening.

In my article, “Be a Voracious Listener,” I talk about the practice of listening to manage, listening to lead, and listening to learn.  The art of listening is a skill that takes conscious practice as it becomes part of your mindset, and is a critical trait for great leaders, managers, and simply, human beings…

To be wise, then smart will make you unstoppable!  Your value to your world, personally and professionally, will always be increasing because you will be gaining experience and understanding without waiting for the grey hairs.  This is for your everyday experiences, not just the big decisions.  A growth mindset has curiosity as its root.  Therefore, isn’t it smart to be wise?  Knowing the answers (when there are answers) is obviously important; knowing which answers apply to the question not always asked is what matters.  Being wise is a personal choice, and has nothing to do with title, rank, stature, or upbringing.  Time in with reflection adds the grey hairs of wisdom, however, don’t wait to look back, start now to move forward!

Go Forth and Succeed!

Craig Davis