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Wisdom


Wisdom is found at the confluence of your Intelligence, your Common Sense and your natural Street Smarts. Your Intelligence is your brains and what you have formally (or informally) studied that makes you book smart. Your Common Sense is your ability to reason your way around issues and the manner in which you figure things out. And your Street Smarts are your innate understanding and your savvy for dealing with the average every day common occurrences of life. Combine all three and your Wisdom represents your acquired knowledge and understanding of what you have learned and experienced and your ability to draw on that knowledge and those experiences to guide you through all that life has to offer. A healthy balance of all three is a pretty nice way to roll, but we often find some people got an extra helping of Intelligence, yet then missed roll call when they were passing out the Common Sense and vice versa. Sometime you come across extremely bright people who might know how to split the atom or engineer the architecture of a domed stadium, but then have difficulty ordering a pizza for delivery. While others may have no formal education at all, but just know how to get things done.

The fact remains however, that both Intelligence and Common Sense will only be improved with the experience of time on the planet. You need time to learn from the experiences you have every day whether through formal education or just by witnessing how daily life works. So it follows that your Wisdom is only acquired through the cumulative effect of all the experiences you have during the course of your life.

  1. The thirty year-old me was far wiser than the twenty year-old me.
  2. Just as the forty year-old me was far wiser than the thirty year-old me.
  3. And the fifty year-old me is wiser still than the forty year-old me.

Just imagine what I’ll know as I pass sixty, seventy, eighty and so on? It’s just too bad that in our adolescent immaturity and ignorance we just don’t realize how much we could learn and grow by actually listening to those who came before us and have already tread the paths we’re currently walking. But then, that’s precisely where the following expression applies its greatest influence. We can’t learn any lesson until our time is right and we are ready to absorb and embrace the message any lesson we may encounter has to offer. 

“When the student is ready … The teacher appears.”

Don’t expect, however, for an actual Professor or even a High School Teacher to appear every time there is a lesson to learn. The “Teacher” in the above quote is simply the event you’re experiencing. It could be a person who opens your eyes to a new way of doing something or a new concept. It could be your own experience of a success or a failure at something you just attempted. Or, it could be something you just witnessed. Just keep your eyes and your ears open at all times to be available and amenable to all that life has to offer through the many experiences you’ll encounter along your journey down The River of Life.

When the Student is ready the Teacher appears” simply means that we learn our own lessons along our own individual timeline as we journey down The River of Life. Although some lessons may present themselves on more than one occasion, we will only learn the lesson when our time is right to understand and appreciate its meaning. You can witness this concept in simply reading any one of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books from Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield. In your first pass through reading the “101 Stories to Open The Heart and Rekindle The Spirit” in each book you may find that some of the stories tug on a heart string or two and bring a tear to your eyes while others leave you with no emotional or intellectual response at all. But then upon reading through the same book and the same stories again, you may find that those same stories that meant nothing the first time around now have an impact due to some event in your life that now has you prepared for the message those stories posses.

For me that simple experience was a great example of the Teacher appearing only when the Student was ready. My heart had no use for some of those stories the first time I read them, but it sure did when I came back again for another helping of “Chicken Soup for The Soul”. That experience also made me think about other times I may have had a repeat experience and only learned something from it on the second or third time around.



~ The Smartest Person in The Room

“Have you ever noticed that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

Don’t we all at some time compare ourselves to others? By how much money we make, what level of education we’ve achieved, where we live and what kind of car we drive’? By our looks or what kind of shape we’re in? By where we went to school and how smart we are? Are you often comparing yourself to others to see where you might measure up to the competition? Some of the best advice I ever heard said simply to treat others on a peer level at all times. They may have gifts and talents you do not, but you also have gifts and talents that they do not possess. Everyone can have something to contribute to the conversation or the situation depending on where you are and what you’re doing.

A friend of mine had a sign in her family’s home office that read:

“You’d better move out now and get a job and your own place while you’re still young and you know everything.”

That sign was a joke within her family but the hidden message is that when we’re young we really do think we know everything. As burgeoning adults in our teenage years we’re just trying to get a foothold on establishing our own independence and we think we know more than we actually do. We honestly believe that we have all the answers and that our opinion is the only one that matters. The ironic truth is that only time on the planet and some Life Experience will teach us how much we actually don’t yet know. Some of the wisest people I have ever met are those who realize how little they really do know. It is that humble understanding that motivates their hunger for growth and keeps them open to the Wisdom gleaned from life’s boundless cornucopia of experiences.


“When you’re green you grow and when you’re ripe you rot!”

Yet since we rarely run into actual graded tests on a daily basis, The Smartest Person in The Room is often determined only by the topic of discussion at the present moment. Take for example my experience on a New Year’s Eve a few years ago: I was out to dinner with a girl I was dating and some of her family and friends of Russian descent plus her sister’s Spanish boyfriend. Her family spoke and understood English fairly well but with pretty heavy accents. Couple that with the fact that most of the conversation was about events and experiences of which I was not familiar and I was lost most of the evening. At one point, I leaned over to my girlfriend and said it would be great to just be able to join the conversation. So, she then explained to her Mother that I was a Health & Fitness Consultant and I knew quite a bit about exercise and nutrition. Her Mother, who was trying to lose some weight and take better care of herself, then asked a few questions and as I began to speak, the whole table suddenly tuned in to listen. It was like those old commercials for E.F. Hutton when everything stops so everyone can hear what E.F. has to say. In fact, the people at the table next to us all stopped their conversations and all turned their heads to listen to what I had to say as well. All of a sudden, I went from being almost completely outside the conversation to being the whole conversation. In just one quick moment, I rocketed from complete insignificance to being the Smartest Person in The Room. I then told my girlfriend that, “I only wanted to join the conversation; I didn’t want to be the conversation. But the lesson was taught that how intelligent you are at any given moment in time is only relevant to what is being discussed. If you want to converse on how to weld and the duties of a Pipe Fitter I won’t have much to add to the conversation and might look pretty dumb if I tried, but if you wish to discuss the four metabolic pathways by which the body utilizes oxygen and energy to fuel your working muscles or the three classes of levers then I might move right to the head of the class.

It is for this very reason that you should never place anyone above or below you in the social standing of your world for there will always be greater and lesser persons than you and it all depends on where you are, what you’re doing, what might be the topic of discussion, or what might be the event in which you’re participating. And at all times remain humble because you just never know when you’re either going to grab the spotlight or have it taken from you. The topic of discussion can sometimes change in an instant and you may go from being the Smartest Person in The Room to complete insignificance or vice versa very quickly. 


Of course, in social situations like informal gatherings and cocktail parties where only news, sports, and weather are discussed then just about everyone will find themselves on equal footing. If you wish to keep from finding yourself in a heated discussion or even an argument with people you don’t even know during those get-togethers, then try to avoid the hot topics of politics and religion in any social gathering where small talk is the general rule of order.


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