Are knowledge and wisdom the same thing? Both words are nouns. One is the application of experience using good judgement (wisdom), and the other is the gathering of experience (knowledge).
knowledge /ˈnäləj/ Noun — facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
wis·dom /ˈwizdəm/ Noun — the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
I find it fascinating how many companies put so much stock on hiring people with knowledge, instead of people with the experience of knowing how to apply knowledge with sound judgement.
One can easily conclude that wisdom is also about the practical application of emotional intelligence. Knowledge and wisdom empower leaders to be beacons of human dignity among all those they influence.
If you want to be a successful leader, you have to be knowledgeable and savvy, but also invest in yourself by undertaking a system of wisdom. Some call this spirituality, others call it self-realization, the bottom line is that if you are not actively attached to a system that is focused on your higher self-realization, you are doing yourself and all those who count on you an injustice.
Whatever system works for you, take advantage of it fully, but be careful that it does not become dogmatic. When the system becomes dogmatic, meaning that you feel compelled to follow it out of fear, or blind conviction — you’ve allowed irrationality to enter your mind, and such causes corrosion of the key ingredient to practical wisdom, self-honesty.
Mastering the skills of leadership requires that one begin with self-honesty. A leader who exercises self-honesty, acquires knowledge, seeks to understand his/her motivations, and is committed to self-mastery.
Having a system of self-realization for yourself, is more important that any educational investment you can make. Becoming a wise leader is about becoming inner self-directed. Someone who is a source of positive attributes that contribute to the betterment of humanity.
Wise leaders acknowledge that they aren’t perfect. No one is, as discussed in my last blog about needing more acceptance in the world. Being wise is knowing that every day is an opportunity to learn, to explore, and to discover more about your own motivations and desires and observing your behavior with others.
Being wise requires taking stock of your relationships on a daily basis. An effective practice for checking in with yourself is to analyze your day’s activities related to other people.
You can start by asking yourself some basic questions:
Did I snap at anyone today?
See if you can identify what the cause of the lack of patience was. In most cases it had nothing to do with the other person.
Did you experience some kind of pain, or did a wound resurface that made you uncomfortable?
Did I seek opportunities to build relationships up, or did I seek to be right and win for myself?
See if you felt insecure about something you are struggling with that made you defensive.
Did you find yourself needing to be in control, instead of embracing being genuine and vulnerable?
Did I repeat patterns of behaviors that don’t represent who I really want to be?
See if you are being too hard on yourself expecting too much, or worse expecting perfection.
Did you make some improvements you can build on? Can you accept yourself as good enough?
Do I need to forgive anyone, including myself?
This is an opportunity to let go of making someone God over you — forgiveness is about releasing someone’s power over you.
Do you regularly forgive yourself? If not, what’s stopping you from doing so?
Daily self-reflections like this can open you up to gain deeper more meaningful insights into your motivations and develop a stronger connection to your inner-self.
“Wisdom lives within our consciousness, it’s not about smarts, it’s about self-honesty, and self-awareness.”
The Four Stages of Wisdom
There are four stages to developing deeper levels of wisdom, or we could simply refer to it as four stages to growing emotional intelligence.
Stage one is about the awakening of the self. This is usually preceded by a period of discontent. Usually a single and abrupt experience. It is sudden, intense, like surviving an accident, and can also be joyous like the birth of a child.
Something happens that shakes you to the core enough to cause what feels like the beginning of an awakening. You begin to question everything about your life in this stage.
If you look back at your life, chances are you’ve experienced this already. Maybe unaware of it, or blind to the gift it was at the time, till years later when you find yourself reflecting on the blessing in disguise it was.
Stage two is about the purification of the self. This is the moment, or series of moments when we come to the conclusion that “something has to change.” What follows is self-simplification and self-knowledge.
In this stage we get to that self-honest place of “let’s cut the crap and get to the facts of what I need to do” with ourselves. This stage is filled with contemplation, and feelings of not knowing what to do.
This stage is can be referred to as the grey area stage of developing wisdom. You need to be a like a magician and practice being open minded and patient, because what will emerge in terms of insights and wisdom you can apply to your life in this stage, can literally be life altering.
Stage three is about the illumination of the self. This is that moment we come to grip with and awaken to conscious reality. We accept things as they are, not as we would like to imagine them to be.
This is the moment we stop living in the aspirational truth. This is the moment of true self-honesty where we being to benefit from the insights and a certainty about life. This is the moment of detachment from our chief entanglements. This is the moment we can begin to reorient life with a new and solid certitude.
This is the stage where we set new standards of conduct and thought for our lives. We do a lot of introspection and turning inward deliberately to discern reality during this stage of wisdom development.
Stage four is when we reach unitive life, or union. This is that moment when we know we have reached a profound change in personality. Sages describe this stage as “The Spiritual Marriage”.
It’s at this stage you become your own authority and master. You are no longer divided but are at-one-with yourself. This is also the stage when you begin to feel compelled to make a difference in the world. You no longer have a desire to sit it out, instead you actively participate in shaping and co-creating reality.
“Developing wisdom is about becoming one with your mind, body, and spirit.”