How Fools and Novices Gain Wisdom
Teams crash when fools lead.
- Useful, not theoretical.
- Connected, not isolated.
- Self-distancing, not self-absorbed.
Wisdom is perspective-taking.
Wisdom is gained by practicing wisdom.
2 ways fools and novices gain wisdom:
Foolish leaders talk like monkeys and listen like chipmunks.
You struggle with listening because talking feels powerful.
Empathetic listeners seem wise. Blabbermouths seem stupid, even if they’re smart.
Active listening is too much for blabbermouths. Beginner-listeners can ask a question, nod, smile, and zip it.
7 wise questions even fools can ask:
- What’s important?
- What should I be noticing?
- What are you learning?
- What’s working?
- What are we doing that isn’t working?
- What might I be missing?
- How might customers respond to this course of action? (Colleagues, Employees, Higher Ups)
#2. Generate third options.
I asked Asher* if he wanted to date short girls or tall girls. He paused and said, “Medium.” He might have said height doesn’t matter, but at least he generated a third option.
- Wisdom rejects our inclination toward either/or answers.
- Wisdom says, “Go for it,” to other people’s reasonable solutions.
- Wisdom doesn’t rush to solutions. Wisdom asks, “What other options might you suggest?”
Even a fool can ask, “And what else?”
Wisdom is habitually happy. Nagging unhappiness is the plight of fools.
You are perceived as a sage when you…
- Demonstrate the ability to take another’s perspective. Wise people rise above themselves.
- Exude calmness. Wise people are seldom frantic.
- Reflect modest confidence. “I believe we can make this situation better.”
- Seek improvement. Wisdom perfects imperfect solutions. (All solutions are imperfect.)
- Have some gray hair. Older people are perceived as wiser than young.
- Bring experience to current frustrations.
- Live confidently with uncertainty. Predicting the future is less important than responding to it.
What practice of wisdom is important to gaining wisdom?
*Asher is one of our grandsons.
Perceived wisdom.pdf (fu-berlin.de)
Having learned from foolishness, I gained some wisdom. Many times wisdom comes from the school of hard knocks and experience. I love the questions!
Thanks Steve. Most of us have a bucket of wisdom that is filled with lessons we learned from failure. I’d say if we don’t have that bucket we have missed the point.
I love McSteve’s answer, but it brings up another aspect of wisdom. Wisdom is also learning from other people’s experiences. A wise observer learns from other people’s “hard knocks” and figures out how to avoid those. My hope is that others can benefit from the foolishness I’ve experienced, step around those particular mistakes, and go make their own. Life’s too short to make all the mistakes yourself.
I believe wisdom is also gained and passed on by knowing when to let others make mistakes. In my experience, the lesson learned tends to be longer lasting.
Perfectly and simply stated…less is more, thoughtfulness above all…
I think wisdom is gained through learning from both your successes and failures.
It starts with a good diagnosis of the situation.
–It’s important to understanding the similarities and differences between the current situation and other situations you have faced. The wise leader is able to simply the data and identify the core issue that needs to be addressed.
I find a good place to start is asking–“What’s the most important question that needs to be discussed and answered.”
“Wisdom is habitually happy. Nagging unhappiness is the plight of fools.” This statement reflects choice in ones life. I make a choice each morning to get up and thank God I have another day on earth to Love, to live, to lead, to follow and attempt to be friendly caring and listening more than I talk. That’s my daily “positive” approach and direction and I find it does keep me happy and I tend to be less (not 100%) foolish in my life. Thank You for this one today
I am much like you Roger. There is this conscious choice to begin and end each day in a similar manner. However, I get a bit perplexed when listening to the news media and the obvious lack of genuine Leadership we have here in the USA residing in Washington, DC. It’s been so obvious to me for soooooo long that these folks, in general, are noisemakers or blabbermouths, as Dan notes in his message today.
While my focus is on the development of Leaders, it is challenging when everyone sees and HEARS the wreckless morass of garbage coming from the highest level of organized chaos on earth. It’s embarrassing to think this is a display of leadership impacting the quality of life for more than 300 million in the US and many more throughout the world.
Since our work is international, we are often asked what’s happening in the US and many are laughing at the chaos being transmitted through news media throughout the world. My apologies for being so ANGRY at the nonsense taking place everywhere, while real issues have taken a back seat to personal agendas.
Oh how I so much agree with you Greg on the “morass” in DC and elsewhere. Fools, fools, fools all caught up in power trips. Even sadder is the public that is too lazy to investigate the “truth” on issues and gets caught up in emotions more than anything else.
I work for an audit organization, and we have regular meetings of the entire team up through management. As I moved up from staff auditor, I made a point of being the note taker, because the person taking the notes is less likely to speak. That meant the folks who were doing the work were the ones talking about it. If I needed to, I could jump in to clarify or suggest. And I rarely needed to.
I like your approach, Jennifer, and how true…the person note-taking is generally listening, very intentionally, not just to what is said, but also to what is not said, and that greatly reduces his or her capacity to dominate a conversation. Maybe I’ll ask the domineer to be the note-taker!
A thought-provoking post It makes us think seriously and differently first as fools and then as wisdom seekers.
Fools behave stupidly and are not ready to listen to others’ views. They have ‘I know all’ attitude and are bit forceful in forcing their ideas on others. They have an ego and live in their own world. They lack the relevant knowledge and are not up-to-date on new developments. Wisdom seekers, on the other hand, are always open for new ideas and are in a habit of keeping their eyes and ears open to know relevant new things. They would verify the unknown things with factual information/data form an authentic source before arriving at decisions. They believe and respect the collective wisdom by encouraging creativity with optimism.