How well is your wisdom funnel working?

After posting about whether wisdom is experiencing hindsight in advance, I have had a few conversations about the topic. These conversations have been great – making me think and consider the process of wisdom more. This week, I’m sharing where I have landed with this and hope that you find this useful.

I am currently sticking with my hypothesis that “wisdom is experiencing hindsight in advance” can be a useful (not necessarily perfect) working definition. If it’s useful for you – feel free to use it!

I also came up with the process below that helped me make sense of how an event can lead to wisdom. I’m referring to it as a “wisdom funnel”. I was playing around with how to describe it and when I read this Wikipedia page, it made sense that what I was talking about was a distillation process – a process that aimed to get good stuff out at the end using by removing and separating components.

Following this model, it is then possible that:

  1. Firstly, not all reflection leads to hindsight and not all hindsight leads to wisdom.

  2. Some of the wisdom that gets spat out of the process is faulty. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that all of our wisdom is inherently flawed to some extent. Principally, that is because wisdom is the result of thinking – and we know that our thinking is imperfect and irrational.

If this holds close to true, then ultimately, our wisdom is limited by our ability to view the world objectively and not subjectively. This is central to a lot of leadership models and is beautifully described by Heifitz, Linsky and Grashow in The Practice of Adaptive Leadership as “the ability to be on the dancefloor and the balcony at the same time”. I have also heard it described as moving from subject to object. From being subjective to objective. When you read it, it seems so easy…it’s not. It’s hard work and something that takes much deliberate practice (more on deliberate practice another time!).

So, as 2017 approaches its end, many of us will reflect on the year that we have had and the year that we want in 2018. A few questions for you to ponder…

  1. How could you get yourself some more time “on the balcony” to be more objective and less subjective to the situations that you are in?

  2. What events of 2017 can you reflect on and learn lessons from?

  3. What will you thank yourself for in 12 months time?

I hope this is helpful. I look forward to keeping in touch in 2018.

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