Practical Wisdom: What's your Job Description?

I once heard wisdom described as the “sense of the fitness of things.” Wisdom is more than knowledge, it is a sensitivity of perception and consideration that facilitates excellence in thought, word and action. Wisdom in thought combines knowledge with accurate intuition. Wisdom in speech is saying the right thing at the right time or as the French say, “le mot juste.” Wisdom in action is being in the right place at the right time.

Wisdom is an uncommon sense that is available to all but possessed by few. We are not born wise, rather, we develop the capacity for wisdom through a properly managed upbringing, a well-rounded education and a breadth of life experience. While the accumulation of facts and information is necessary, it is not sufficient for the steady expression of wisdom.

Barry Schwartz, in his persuasive TED talk given in 2009, shares an interesting perspective on wisdom that I thought you would enjoy this weekend.

[ted id=462]

If we create too many rules, if we over-regulate the affairs of man, then creativity, improvisation and organic growth will likely atrophy. There is, of course, a balance to be struck. Rules are necessary, but too many rules or unnecessary rules can be stifling.

As Schwartz notes, practical wisdom can be developed given the proper time, sufficient permission and mentorship. These three elements seem to be in dwindling supply these days, not for lack of possibility, but from inattention. If we become a society that is dependent on rules to guide our every function, we will certainly miss many opportunities for growth and advancement.

Government is required in the areas where men are incapable of self-governance. Self-governance is made possible by a well developed capacity for practical wisdom. Let us work carefully together to generate a cultural medium in which wisdom can once again flourish.


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7 Responses to Practical Wisdom: What's your Job Description?

  1. Mitch says:

    More good stuff! Each post I think “I could stop here and just keep working with this one principle for the next month.” But I’m glad you keep bringing it on, because the progress in new thought and perspective can make great leaps in a day’s time.

  2. Flow says:

    Providing an environment for people (children, employees, etc) to think things through and consider the best overall outcome for the particular circumstances is the key to real growth. Appreciate you highlighting this today!

  3. Brad says:

    Great points & TED link!

  4. Lady Leo says:

    Excellent post. I loved Barry Schwartz, his passion, the intelligent delivery of his message but most of all his subject.

    Wisdom is like common sense it comes through the heart and the mind. If we think of our heart and minds as filters we see where the problems and the solutions lie. The will comes from our own moral compass and both the will and the skill are learned through the attitudes, actions and example of our parents, family, neighbors, teachers etc.

    There is a poem that for about 35 years most hospitals have given out to new parents,

    “Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Law Nolte

    If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

    If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

    If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

    If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

    If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

    If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

    If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

    If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

    If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

    If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

    If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

    If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

    If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

    If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

    If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

    If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

    If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

    If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

    If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

    Is it too simple to think the crisis our world is in could have such simple answers? I don’t pretend to have a pat answer to our problems but I do think this is the wise place to begin if we really want to make a difference. Let’s give practical wisdom a try; at least for a generation or two and take our chances.

  5. DeeDee says:

    THANK YOU! Also, I love the poem Lady Leo shared & appreciate all your readers daily comments. Have a great weekend!!

  6. J.J.Mc says:

    I’ll bet the janitors he interviewed enjoyed their jobs or at least had more job satisfaction then the ones that didn’t put themselves into it. Empathy, kindness and caring add to the givers life as well as the ones receiving.
    Great post and I’ll make sure my company job descriptions at least give my new employees some ideas about what might be helpful in the “people to people” part of their jobs and thank the ones that do it.

  7. Doug says:

    He’s describing the employee EVERYONE looks for. Do a good job because it’s the right thing to do and because you take pride in what you do. Thanks for the reminder to acknowledge those gems regularly. The information on motivating was appreciated and how people asked to be motivated is a clue about them. This presentation was all about balance in the work place.

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