Explore the differences between data, information, knowledge and wisdom.

When it comes to wisdom, how do we become wise. What steps do we take to grow more healthy, centered, awake and aware? How do we know the difference between someone who is knowledgable and someone who is wise?

Wisdom: a word worth paying attention to!

How do we grow wise? What ingredients do we need to cook-up some wisdom? Consider this wisdom pyramid (much like a food pyramid).

First ingredient (pyramid base): data!

Words, numbers, images, sounds, sights, tastes are all good examples of data. For example, open a dictionary to any page and you’ll find all sorts of words. Words form a small part of our wisdom. We need more than words to become wise.

When we combine words into something meaningful, we form information (wisdom pyramid level 2).

The web is wonderful in overloading us with information. Is information wisdom? Not yet! Why? Well, google some directions on how to change a flat tire. Even the most detailed step-by-step instruction manual lacks all you need to know when you actually have to change a flat tire. When you finally DO change that tire, you turn information into knowledge.

Yes, knowledge contains the seeds of profound wisdom (wisdom pyramid level 3).

While people who contain vast stores of knowledge often seem wise, their knowledge may fool you into believing they’re a wise person. For example, imagine you’ve read every known book about New York city. You’ve listened to every known expert on the city of New York. You’ve watched every known movie, DVD, video and TV series there is on New York city. However, you’ve never actually traveled to, or lived in New York city. If the time comes for me to visit New York City I’ll choose to hang with someone who LIVES and works in New York city (hands-down any day) over anyone who’s book smart about NYC.

Experience combined with knowledge forms the initial crumbs of wisdom (wisdom pyramid top).

Why only crumbs of wisdom versus a full on wisdom buffet? Simple! The amount of first-hand experiential time plays the pivotal role to determine how ripe ones’ wisdom really is. The more time we spend practicing what we know, the more knowledge ripens into wisdom. Of course, we aid the process of becoming more wise when we add the final wisdom ingredient: perspective! When we’re able to engage knowledge from multiple perspectives (age, gender, orientation, social, cultural, political, professional and spiritual perspectives — for example) we polish rough wisdom into diamonds!

Data + information = knowledge. Knowledge + experience + time = initial seeds of wisdom. Time + multiple perspectives = savvy wisdom! To test out this formula, think back to a time when you thought you knew it all! (Is that time, today? If so, you’re in for some big surprises!) As you ponder your level of wisdom, do you notice how the more you know, the more you become aware of how much more there is to know?

Is it possible to ever know ALL there is to know about some one or some thing? A wise person will automatically answer NO! If someone tells you, “Yea! I know all there is to know about [insert any topic], RUN (don’t walk) away from this person. Why? Arrogance inspires blindness. Confidence inspires insightfulness.

What does forming wisdom have to do with one’s personal worth?

Our personal worth is soundly rooted in how well (and fast) we learn life lessons. Those who learn quickly tend to adapt, survive and often thrive. Anyone who learns the hard way (often painfully hard), does so by repeating, repeating (did I mention, repeating? ) certain lessons over and over again. Each time we repeat a lesson, we consume more time, money and related resources. While each lesson offers a nuance unlike any other lesson, it’s worth our time to learn our lessons the first time around.

Any time you discover yourself feeling discomfort or pain due to repeating a less-than-enjoyable life lesson, try on this suggestion to soften or dissolve pain: LEARN with a sense of gratitude. Learning based in gratitude helps dissolve discomfort or pain when we genuinely appreciate or savor the learning process.

Ready to engage the art of savoring the learning process this time? I hope so! Why? When we fail at learning something, we face repeating that lesson. These lessons impact our sense of personal well being on many levels.

Have you noticed how a wise person enjoys and savors the art of learning?

Care to share a time where you experienced knowledge ripening into wisdom? A time where you balanced the art of learning with the craft of teaching?

I look forward to learning / reading your thoughts below . . .

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