Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finding Wisdom

Listen to advice and take criticism if you want to be wise the rest of your life. –Proverbs19.20

Without counsel plans go wrong: but in the multitude of counselors they are established. – Proverbs15.22

The other day my son was telling me about a friend of his who had made a questionable decision. He asked him to whom he had gone for advice and he said, “My friends!”

Monte IV: O man … you’re screwed.

There is wisdom in seeking a multitude of counselors regarding major decisions in our lives. This is only true, however, if The Multitude is comprised of wise people.

Seeking wisdom from a man about building a successful business who has never done so himself is not so wise

Seeking parental advice from a childless woman is not a wise move

Listening to counsel about how to grow in wisdom and maturity from someone who has been stuck on being 16 for the last 15 years should make you question the depth of your own wisdom!

 “Yes, I think you should jump off of that cliff. I mean, hey, I have zip experience here, but, dude, it feels so … right!”

Why in the world do so many people end up taking advice from people who are clueless? There are probably as many reasons as there are people. Sometimes we take the advice because it is what we wanted to do in the first place. Sometimes we want to have plausible deniability: “It’s not my fault things fell to pieces, he/she/they told me to do this!”
The last thing we want is to sit around and swap ignorance with people. “I talked it all out with people who care for me and we agreed this is what I should do.” Great. Caring people are a wonderful gift but was she an expert in the field of your inquiry? Did he have years and years of experience that backed-up his advice?  

The Multitude
In considering from whom you will seek counsel, a good rule of thumb is, “The older the better.” As Emerson said, “The years teach much which the days never knew.” People who have years of experience can tell you what consequences to expect from most any decision you are considering.
I also highly recommend professionals (psychologists, financial planners, family therapist, Life-coaches, etc.). The zillions of hours these people have spent sorting through thousands of scenarios gives them a breadth and width of knowledge and wisdom that is difficult to find elsewhere. Plus there is the added benefit of their not being emotionally invested, as well as not having entered into the “unspoken conspiracies” (Dan Tocchini) we have with so many of our friends: “If you don’t expose my rot, I wont point out yours!”
In evaluating people regarding whether or not they are wise (Hat-tip to St James):

Wisdom is pure: it does not contain advice that would debase you or others.

Wisdom brings peace: the wise person always seeks the way of peace, not contention.

Wisdom is gentle, willing to yield: the wise are not, by nature, argumentative.

Wisdom is full of kindness and care: the wise are predisposed toward the good of others.

Wisdom is full of good fruit: the evidence of having lived wisely. (This is the point I was making about seeking out people who have long term experience and success in the areas where you need counsel.)

Wisdom is not partial or hypocritical: it is not about playing party against party, and does not ask that you take a position or path based on deceit.
Wisdom sometimes appears on the surface to be irrational. Charles Dickens wrote that, “There is a wisdom of the head … and a wisdom of the heart.” This is something I have been thinking about for years now. I suggest that the truly wise have learned when to follow the head and when to follow the heart, as well as when to integrate both.  There are times when it is wise to follow the path revealed by logic and the common sense that comes from experience. There are also times when the “Heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of.” (Pascal) This doesn’t mean the heart is without “reason,” only that the head has yet to understand. Sometimes EQ (emotional intelligence) trumps IQ! Or so I believe …

Copyright, 2012, Monte E Wilson 

1 comment:

  1. Loads of emails on this post. Some people were a tad miffed with me, believing their spouses wrote and asked me to make a point directly related to their lack of maturity/wisdom.

    On one hand I am thrilled my post hit home in a very real way. On the other hand, no, I was not thinking of any particular individual. I learned 40 years ago that picking on people in the audience was not only disrespectful, it was counterproductive.

    The audience I write for is made up of one person: Monte E Wilson, III