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Character Quality of the Month

Wisdom:  Making Practical Application of What is Learned 

The Wise Woman’s Stone
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone. - Author Unknown

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw


Wisdom at Work:

In the business world, each of us makes daily decisions. Many of the decisions are not complicated but some decisions are very difficult to make. Even the non-complicated decisions can end up being costly. Therefore, correct decisions are necessary in the workplace.  Follow this process for Wisdom in decision-making: know the facts, know the values, know the consequences, know when to literally take a walk, and know when you have made the right decision.

Know the facts. We definitely don’t have all the answers and often need advice. Being surrounded by the best advisers is crucial in the decision-making process. In addition to listening to advisers, do research along with analyzing, evaluating, and formulating. It is important to admit what we don’t know. It is also important to encourage different points of view, thereby allowing for open and trustworthy feedback.

Know the values. The values are not just financially and bottom-line driven. Values include the impact on the workplace, morale, and the team overall.

Know the consequences. It is essential that a decision is not made on impulse. Also, fear can defeat the decision-making process. Fear can cause hesitation, which can delay good results. What can go wrong or what are the risks? What are my expectations? What are the results of the cost/benefit analysis?

Know when to literally take a walk. Researchers at Stanford University found that creative output increases by an average of 60% when taking a walk. Many times we just need time to think things through, to get away. We need time to be creative. By taking a walk, we can make a better decision.

Know when I have made the right decision. Decision-making includes proper planning and hard work. There are many times when there are no easy solutions. Have all important and necessary questions been asked? Has each member of the team been included in the decision-making process? Have expectations been clearly communicated to the entire team? Have we, together, prepared an exit strategy plan if the wrong decision is made? Wisdom in the workplace - making the right decisions - is a journey. In order to be successful in that journey, we must continue to develop our skills and measurements.

Wisdom at Home:

Wisdom begins with understanding who you are and your basic core values, because any decision you make will be filtered through your own worldview lens. One of the primary ways we learn about life is through our experiences. We also receive information from other sources such as people, books, the internet, and our surroundings. A wise person realizes they don’t know everything and values input from other people. Receiving advice from others can assist us in getting the facts we need in order to properly apply the information we have. The toughest part of wisdom, though, is applying what we learn. While knowledge is good, if you aren’t able to apply it to your life and make good decisions, you haven’t fully obtained wisdom. I remember my first time lighting a match when I was about 7 years old. I learned after burning my finger that fire is not something to play with... and life is full of wisdom-building opportunities.

Seek Understanding.  Analyze the facts of a situation. Learn from what has occurred in the past. Life is full of cause and effect relationships, and the more we understand this process, the better we can work and live.

  • What are some cause and effect relationships you see in life?
  • How can you learn from observing these relationships?
  • They say “experience is a difficult teacher.” How can experience be a difficult way to learn? How can you learn from the experiences of others so that you don’t have to go through something yourself?
  • What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?

Ask For Advice.  A person who thinks they know everything rarely does, but a wise person realizes the value of good advice. Learn from the experience of others and you can avoid potentially embarrassing mistakes. Once you have gathered advice, you can use the nuggets of wisdom found within to make better decisions.

  • Who is someone you can ask for advice?
  • When has someone asked you for advice? How did you help them?
  • What can you avoid by asking someone you can trust for advice?
  • How can you share your experiences and give good advice to others in a way that they will accept?

Apply What You Learn.  The real test of wisdom is applying what you learn. Do you learn from your mistakes or do you repeat them over and over again? The choices you make today can affect your job, your family, and your future. Do yourself a favor by carefully applying all you learn to make the wisest choices possible.

  • When did you make a mistake and learn from it? How did making the mistake actually help you later on?
  • When someone you know refuses to learn from their mistakes, what usually happens to them?

How can choices you make today affect you and those around you in the future?

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” —Roy E. Disney

“Ethical decisions ensure that everyone’s best interests are protected. When in doubt, don’t.” —Harvey Mackay

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” —Jim Collins

“Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level.” —Peter Drucker

1. Get Understanding

Wisdom involves observing the world around you, valuing standards of good character, recognizing error in your beliefs, and having the humility to revise your thinking. Understand how people and things interact, and recognize how you can apply the principles of good character to each new situation. Master new skills, discern whether new ideas reflect the truth, and look for ways to apply what you know.

2. Seek Good Advice

Ask questions, and converse with others so that you can learn from their experiences. Get advice from those who demonstrate good character. Look for those who have mastered the subject and who will point out where you are wrong. Test the answers you receive against the evidence you have, and keep asking questions.

Listen to criticism. Others’ actions and reactions might not make sense, but you can try to understand even difficult individuals, and the effort will help you see more clearly, even if your critics are wrong.

3. Learn From the Past

Our experiences also alert us to areas we do not understand. Consider what ideas and methods contributed to the choices you and others made. Recognize when multiple factors affect the results. Discern where you miscalculated, where you had too little information, and where you failed to measure up to the standards of good character.

4. Choose Friends Carefully

Community or organizational culture influences the way individuals think and respond, and individuals identify with groups who have similar attitudes and values. Keep those friends who keep their word, honor others, tell the truth, and ask the tough questions. If you would be wise, keep company with those who help you see and do what is right.

5. Apply What You Learn

When you really learn something, you replace old assumptions, conquer old habits, and apply the principles of good character to new situations. A wise person learns what is right and does what it takes to do it.

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