An aspect of spiritual wisdom is learning to discriminate. In the real world, the word discrimination has been portrayed in a negative sense. But in the world of spirituality discrimination means ‘Viveka’ – the ability to recognize the truth.
How can you imbibe this quality of recognizing the truth? With the ability of Divergent Thinking. Meditation helped me hone this skill.
There is a very popular book people must have read, and I have also read, it's called ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’. I consider myself as the ‘Monk’ who has kept his Ferrari. Spiritual wisdom helped me understand that as part of this journey of life its not necessary for you to sell your Ferrari, or sell any material belongings that you have, but the important thing is not be attached to it. When you are not attached to something or cease to identify yourself with your desires, that is when you become capable of recognizing the truth.
This thought made me reflect further on the kind of people I want to be surrounded with, in my day-to-day work life. I realized, it is situational and figured that on a broader spectrum people can be classified as Fools, Intelligent Wits, or Wise Sages.
This form of knowledge also helps me select the right candidates for the desired profile, in my company.
So, first, a few thoughts on ways to discern a fool, an intelligent wit, and a wise sage – an important distinction when hiring or meeting new people.
Many quotes make this distinction; along the lines of: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” But my favorite is Otto von Bismarck “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
The quote indicates that those who are full of themselves, narcissistic, and arrogant may generally be classified as fools. You might want to avoid this kind of person in general. I had covered this topic in detail in one of my webinars – ‘The world does spin but not around you’.
On the other hand, the flip side – intelligence and wisdom, are attractive traits.
Intelligence, according to a recent post by my mentor and friend Dr. Adizes may be defined as “One’s ability to handle information, and derive conclusions based on information that is analyzed and deliberated upon.” He added, “The better your analytical capabilities to find patterns, and understand these patterns, the more intelligent you are. You can derive conclusions from the information faster and better than somebody else who’s not as intelligent as you are.”
Those of us in the technology domain may think of this person as a Data Scientist. But, I think we have all come across analytical individuals in our business and technical associations as well as in social interactions. These are people who will not take any action unless they analyze a situation completely, and thus they often end up taking time in their decision making, be it shopping for the next big Screen TV or choosing a life partner.
Now too much of anything is good for nothing, so what we are left with when it comes to hiring the right person is ‘The Wise’.
But, how would we describe the Wise Sage? Drawing again from the wisdom of my mentor and friend Dr. Adizes – “Wisdom is based on experience. An intelligent person knows how to get out of a hole. A wise person knows how not to fall into the hole in the first place. Why? Because he has experience. And the best experience is learning from other people who fell into the hole.”
I find it quite logical and in line with what I learned over the years, that intelligence is analytic, but it is the wise who is intuitive.
However, my friend contends that wisdom comes with experience and age, which is kind of disagreeable. I do not believe age equates with wisdom by default. For me, it is the quality of experience, not the quantity, that makes someone wise.
And the quality of wisdom is synonymous with leadership, just as the book ‘From Smart to Wise’ (by authors Prasad Kaipa, Navi Radjou) states that “Wisdom distinguishes great leaders from the rest of the pack”.
A statement that coincides with my earlier take on how to hire the right person based on their leadership qualities. Simply put, a leader is someone who refuses to stay stuck in the state of victimhood, instead sees opportunity in every situation. I also see this as ‘the trait of the wise’. A wise sage sees opportunity in every situation and learns from it.
Wisdom emerges not just from experience, but through thoughtful reflection on the lessons gained through experience. That is where contemplative practices such as meditation come in. Meditation like I mentioned earlier can develop divergent thinking in an individual, which means being able to simultaneously process all possible combinations in a given situation without having to think through each, separately; in other words a super-computer-type ability in the human mind. This may correspond with what we also refer to as intuition or gut feeling.
The one who is intuitive and meditative also hones the ability to rise above personal interest; or seeking pleasures, the third important trait of the wise. And one who conquers desires can connect easily to a higher purpose. A connection to a higher goal brings clarity in thoughts, takes us to a different dimension, the path on which wise sages walk.
It is time we see that, and sift through to find wisdom and intelligence, and cultivate the leadership we need for tomorrow.
Coming back to right where I started, how to hire the right person? And whether to hire young intelligent people vs old wise people for leadership?
This is where spiritual wisdom helps. One needs to be wise to spot and appreciate the wisdom in others. Work on yourself to be wise first, and then learn to hire young wise people for leadership.