Intentional Wisdom Practices in a Distracted World

When it comes to business, wisdom is an essential ingredient for success. It gives leaders the ability to apply knowledge, experience, and good judgment to solve problems and make decisions. Wisdom can be learned primarily in three many ways; mentors, experience, and books. In this post, we will explore the differences between these methods of learning and creating intentional practices for gaining wisdom in a world that wants to keep you distracted.

Learning Wisdom from Mentors

Mentors are experienced professionals who have already achieved success in their respective fields. They can provide valuable insights and guidance to help you navigate the challenges of running a business. Mentors can help you avoid common pitfalls and provide you with a roadmap for success. They can also introduce you to their network of contacts, which can be invaluable for growing your business.

One of the biggest advantages of learning wisdom from mentors is that they can provide you with real-world examples of what works and what doesn't. They can share their own experiences and give you practical advice on how to apply their lessons to your own business. This type of learning is much more effective than reading about theoretical concepts in a book.

However, finding the right mentor can be challenging, and it's important to find someone who you trust and respect. A good mentor is:

  • A passion for your industry and work
  • Relevant experience in your field
  • Empathy and listening skills
  • Time to commit to a long-term mentorship
  • The ability to push you beyond your comfort zone
  • Similar values, goals, and communication styles

Mentorship is a two-way street. When you find a mentor who is willing to invest in your success, it is important to show your appreciation. This can come in the form of offering to help them with their business or providing them with valuable insight into their industry. By paying it forward and helping other aspiring entrepreneurs, you can create a ripple effect of positive change, which is beneficial for all involved. A great modern-day example is the impact that Benjamin Graham and Charlie Munger had on Warren Buffet who later mentored Bill Gates.

Learning Wisdom from Experience

Experience is another powerful way to learn wisdom in business. By working in different roles and industries, you can gain a broad range of knowledge and skills that can be applied to your own business. Experience can teach you how to handle difficult situations, make tough decisions, and adapt to changing circumstances.

One of the benefits of learning wisdom from experience is that it allows you to learn from your mistakes. Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and it can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn't. By reflecting on your experiences and analyzing your successes and failures, you can gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to succeed in business.

However, in order to gain wisdom from experiences you can't have to force yourself to do new things, meet new people, and often face vulnerability. Here are a few ideas on how to get started:

  • Try new things
  • Talk to people you don’t know
  • Do it the hard way
  • Make mistakes

Reflection is a key component of turning experience into wisdom and is often overlooked or discounted. It allows you to take a step back and analyze the lessons you have learned from your experiences. It can also help you identify patterns and trends that can lead to deeper insights into your own behavior and habits. Reflection is an important part of the learning process and can help you gain a greater understanding of yourself, which is essential for making better decisions and crystalizing experience into long-term wisdom.

Learning Wisdom from Books

While books can be a valuable source of knowledge, they are not always the best way to learn wisdom in business. Books can provide theoretical concepts and case studies, but they cannot replicate the real-world experience of working in a business. They can become outdated quickly and may not provide insights into current trends or emerging technologies. Reading about business concepts is not the same as experiencing them firsthand.

Another limitation of learning wisdom from books is that they are often written by authors who have not achieved success in business themselves. While they may have studied business theory extensively, they may not have the practical experience to back up their claims. This can lead to a disconnect between the theory presented in the book and the reality of running a business.

One way to get the most out of books is to view them as an opportunity to engage in critical thinking. Rather than simply accepting what the author says, take the time to question and analyze the information presented. Look for any discrepancies or gaps in the argument, and consider how the lessons presented could be applied in the real world. Doing this can help you gain a deeper understanding of the material and make more informed decisions in your own business.

Here are some important tips to help you choose better books to read and how to get the most out of your reading time. Choose books that are relevant to your industry or interests.

  • Look for books that have been recommended by trusted sources or mentors.
  • Only read books you would read twice or more
  • Use different colored highlighters each time you read a book.
  • On the inside cover of the book, put the date you read the book and highlight it in a color. Then the next time you read the book, do the same thing but with a different colored highlighter. Do this each time you read the book and soon you'll have a unique perspective of what you learned from the book based on your own personal timeline of life.
  • When reading a book, add these practices to enhance your retention:
  • Take notes as you read to help you remember key concepts and ideas.
  • Actively engage with the material by asking questions and analyzing the information presented.
  • Consider how the lessons presented in the book could be applied in your own business or life.
  • Read widely and diversely to gain a broad range of perspectives and insights.
  • When you are done with a book, write a short review or synopsis of what you learned.

It's easy to get caught up in the idea of reading more and more books, but it's important to be mindful of how much time and energy you're investing in these activities. You can read a lot of books without actually gaining any wisdom from them. It's important to be selective about the books you choose to read and focus on those that are most relevant to your interests and goals. Additionally, take the time to properly reflect on the material you have read and consider how it could be applied in your own business or life. By doing this, you can ensure that you are maximizing the return on your investment and learning meaningful lessons from the books you read.

“The ability to reflect is crucial for understanding and processing. It is also essential to our ability to move forward and create something from what we have learned.” -George Couros, Innovate Inside the Box

The Role of Emotional Intelligence and Reflection in Developing Wisdom

When we think of wisdom, we often associate it with intelligence and experience. However, emotional intelligence and reflection also play a significant role in developing wisdom. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize and manage our own emotions while also understanding and empathizing with the emotions of others. And reflection is the practice of taking a step back and analyzing the lessons you have learned from your experiences.

In business, emotional intelligence can help leaders navigate difficult conversations, build strong relationships, and make decisions that take into account the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders. By cultivating emotional intelligence through practices such as mindfulness meditation and active listening, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and others, leading to greater wisdom in their personal and professional lives.

Reflection is also an important tool for developing wisdom and can be applied to all three methods of gaining wisdom. By taking the time to reflect on experiences, conversations, books, and other sources of information, we can gain a deeper understanding of the material and apply it to our own lives. Reflection helps us to identify patterns, recognize trends, and uncover insights that can inform our decision-making. It also allows us to gain a greater understanding of ourselves, which can lead to greater clarity and focus in our lives. Reflection is a powerful tool for developing wisdom and should be a part of every intentional practice.

It's important to note that emotional intelligence and reflection are not something that can be learned overnight. It takes time and intentional practice to develop these skill sets. However, by incorporating daily habits such as journaling or reflecting on interactions with others, individuals can gradually increase their emotional awareness and ultimately become wiser leaders.

How to Combine All Three

Combining all three to gain wisdom can lead to a powerful combination of knowledge, experience, and emotional intelligence. Here are three steps to help you get started:

  1. Build a plan - If you don’t plan you never will. Dedicate time to building a plan for how you’ll garner wisdom from all three ways. Consistency is key when it comes to intentional practices. Make a commitment to yourself to stick with your plan and stay consistent with your learning. Make it a habit to learn from mentors, gain experience, and read books regularly.
  2. Be Intentional - Spend time daily being intentional with how you spend your time. If you are not scheduling yourself first then you are falling behind. intentional with people you choose to surround yourself with, projects you take on, and opportunities you pursue.
  3. Reflection - Reflection is an important part of the learning process, and it should be done for all three methods of gaining wisdom. Reflecting on your experiences with mentors, your own experiences, and the books you read can help you gain a deeper understanding of the material and make more informed decisions in your own business.

“Research…. Demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect.” - Harvard Review, Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection

Conclusion and Challenge

In conclusion, wisdom is an essential ingredient for success in business. While there are many ways to learn wisdom, including from mentors, experience, and books, the most effective methods are learning from mentors and experience. Mentors can provide real-world examples and practical advice, while experience allows you to learn from your mistakes and gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to succeed in business. While books can be a valuable source of knowledge, they cannot replicate the real-world experience of working in a business.

I challenge each of you to take the Wisdom Challenge in 2023:

  1. New Experiences (3/wk) - Try something new, meet someone new, or just take a different way home. Start simple but make a point of doing or trying 3 new things each week.
  2. Find a Good Book (2/mn) - Set a goal of reading two books per month and recap them. Find an accountability reading partner to enhance this experience.
  3. Mentorship (1:2/yr) - If you are 35+, set a goal of having an intentional mentor and mentoring 2 other people. If you are under the age of 35, flip this and find 2 intentional mentors and mentor 1 person.

It can take time to develop wisdom, but it is worth the effort. It is important to remember that wisdom is not just about knowledge and experience. It is also about understanding yourself and the world around you. To gain wisdom, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone, take risks, and be open to learning new things. Additionally, it is important to take the time to reflect on what you have learned and consider how it could be applied in your own life. By doing this, you can ensure that you are truly growing and developing as a person, as a leader, and as a human on this amazing voyage of life.