And is it the same as knowledge? Listen here

An accepted definition of “Wisdom” is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.

Compare that to “Knowledge”. We can define this as facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Let’s consider an example. One is of an academic who has studied the nutritional requirements of a farmer’s livestock to produce the best meat. The other is a fourth generation farmer and who has personally been feeding cattle daily for over twenty years! Who would have the greater knowledge and why?

When considered this way, we can contextualise to business and leadership. Much can be learned from knowledge and gaining an understanding…but only allowing people the opportunity to put knowledge into practice, do we start to gain wisdom. I once heard of an American CEO who always asked when carrying out interviews, “What is the biggest mistake that you have ever made in business”? Naively, those that answered “I never have”, were invited to leave the interview! The implication being that unless you have tried and failed at something, you will never fully learn…Or acquire wisdom.

To develop the next generation Leaders, we have to change their knowledge into wisdom. Knowledge can be gained from prior learning and observation, but we have to take this to the next level. A parent showing their child how to ride a bike has to accept that to fully develop their knowledge may mean letting go of the reins even if the child comes off. That moment may be the best education they get provided you then support them as they develop a greater understanding…”To think and act using knowledge”…an expression that we used in the opening paragraph.

The knowledge transfer is very much dependant on a culture where leaders coach and individuals may also have mentors. A culture where empowerment exists. What a shame that we allow people with knowledge to never use that knowledge to its fullest. Of course the knowledge will require testing and gauging the results, developing further, and refining…Learning from mistakes and that won’t be repeated.  Discussing with peers, asking for feedback…up and down.

Always, the crunch question being…”How can I apply my knowledge to best effect gaining wisdom at the same time”.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind”
Khalil Gibran