Want to Stop Being Foolish and Grow Wise?

A leader with wisdom seems foolish to fools.

I called a businessperson for advice. He made some good points. But, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take his advice. It felt awkward. It was hard.

Wisdom often seems wrong to the foolish.

dull is easy

The next day, I asked another businessperson for his thoughts on the same subject. He gave me the same advice I had received the day before.

It’s astounding how certain we can be when we’re wrong.

Foolish leaders:

  1. Make choices based on one option.
  2. Anticipate everything will go as planned.
  3. Defend their position, rather than exploring alternatives. Stay the course, even when it isn’t working.
  4. Believe head nodders. Reject constructive dissent.
  5. Gather information, but don’t take action.

Number one:

The number one mark of wise leaders is passion for wisdom.

Wise leaders have open hearts, hungry minds, and active hands. Fools have self-serving hearts, closed minds, and indulgent hands.

7 ways to pursue wisdom:

  1. Commit yourself to becoming a skillful leader. (I substitute “skillful” for “wisdom” to elevate wisdom above intellect or theory.)
  2. Move from “what” to “who.” Before you ask, “What should I do,” ask, “Who might know?”
  3. Meet and talk with skillful people every chance you get. Ask things like:
    1. Who has made a difference in your life? How?
    2. What matters?
    3. What are you passionate about?
    4. What are you learning?
  4. Set up calls with top-of-class people. Aim extremely high. Keep trying.
  5. Quietly whisper in your head, “What does this person do extremely well? How might I emulate them?”
  6. Ask second and third questions.
  7. Reflect on the trajectory of your journey. Where are you going? Be brutal with yourself.

Bonus: Figure out what isn’t working and stop doing it.

How might leaders pursue wisdom?

How might you pursue wisdom this week?