Is wisdom experiencing hindsight in advance?

I assume that this guy is reflecting on something. I hope that he uses that reflection wisely.

I assume that this guy is reflecting on something. I hope that he uses that reflection wisely.

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A few months ago, I was talking to a former colleague who is a great, deep, reflective thinker. I enjoy our chats and was asking her about how she was feeling about some upcoming organisational changes that were due to be announced and may impact on her role. She said that she had reflected on the last time she had gone through the process (12 months prior) and with that hindsight she was better positioned for whatever might come around this time. It got me thinking:

Is wisdom experiencing hindsight in advance?

We chatted about it some more and I think it’s a pretty useful working definition.

I was reminded of this conversation last week when I attended a presentation by the awesome Dan Ariely of Duke University. He is a behavioural economist who, among other things, founded the Centre for Advanced Hindsight. Again, the premise seems to be that while we humans are irrational, things seem much clearer in hindsight and having this in advance can be useful.

If that’s true (or at least helpful), we can all be wiser by reflecting on what we have experienced that may remind us of what we are currently approaching. It also allows us to reframe any errors that we make as “just getting some future wisdom”! Of course, our hindsight (and hence wisdom) is better if we are able to reflect often and well on what we have experienced.

I am convinced that most of us could benefit from acting with more wisdom and that we probably have a lot more wisdom available to us than we realise. So, a couple of questions to ponder:

  1. Has hindsight ever helped you to act more wisely?

  2. Are you making enough time and space in your life to reflect and improve your hindsight?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go wisely!

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