Here are my little college, we have a speakers series entitled the “Sophia” Series, which is run by a dear friend, affectionately known as the “Sophia Daemon”. The word Sophia is greek for wisdom. After another Sophia talk last month, my friend the Daemon and I got talking about the nature of wisdom, and how wisdom seems to be changing in our lifetimes.
Wisdom used to be a lot about information. Professors often professed to have wisdom about a specific topic. But with the democratization of information through technology, it appears that we value wisdom less, since it is easily accessible to us on the internet. Research shows that the millennial generation believe that leadership is less about wisdom and experience, and more about charisma and inspiration.
I’m not sure that wisdom is a thing of the past. Just maybe the nature of wisdom is now changing. That is, wisdom isn’t about what we know, but our understanding of the process of knowledge. In other words, wisdom is about asking the right questions, not having the right answers. Learning to ask the right questions comes from the experience of deep reflection, often after a miserable disaster. By making enough mistakes over time, and spending time reflecting on these mistakes, we develop wisdom.
So wisdom isn’t knowing more stuff than someone else. Wisdom is knowing what questions to ask, and not censoring the answers. And good leaders, no matter their age, are wise.