It has become routine in our podcasts that we talk with guests about the things they are doing to stay sharp; and in every conversation, each has indicated their top hires have a teachable spirit and are lifelong learners. It is apparent in these discussions that thought leaders acknowledge success depends largely on a person’s willingness to expand their thinking.
While many people and companies mistake education – like a diploma or an advanced degree – for wisdom and deep learning that can be applied with the right amount of direction, the kind of wisdom that creates true success in any endeavor is not the same as gaining knowledge. Knowledge is a simple precursor to wisdom. Taking knowledge earned and investing real work into making it a part of your success is a skill, while collecting wisdom includes an intuitive element and insight gained from personal experience that serves us as we make choices in our lives, both personal and professional.
There are no boundaries on your capacity to learn, to expand your skills, to go deeper and think bigger, to build passion in yourself and your teammates, nor to share all you learn with the rest of the world. Seeking wisdom used to constantly improve performance should be a continual process.
Since today is National Coaching Day, as we look back fondly on the great coaching we have received, we thought we should share a little. There are three simple things you can do daily to chart the course on your lifelong journey toward wisdom: read, seek the counsel of others, and serve others. These may seem obvious, yet regrettably, much of our society has ignored these simple, critical vectors to real wisdom despite their ready availability.
Read. Specifically, read books.
We’re encouraged and even like to read books as kids, but as adults, many have forgotten this vital piece of advice. Amazingly, the national average for books read by American adults is less than two a year. Few things impact you like time alone with a good book, highlighter in hand, actively seeking wisdom.
Magazines, newspapers and social media inform and entertain, but wisdom is generally not found there….In fact, much of it is deliberate misinformation intended to divert your attention from what really matters. Sure, there is nothing wrong with consuming news digests for entertainment and a little business insight, but wisdom is generally found in nonfiction books or fiction with a specific point or purpose.
As you read, be on the lookout for something that will change everything. One idea has the power to transform your life forever, but you must first recognize it. The past will never change, but you can change the future by changing your actions today. It is really an amazingly simple process. We, as humans, are always in a process of change. Therefore, we might as well guide the direction in which we will change.
If you don’t think you can take the time to read, you can always listen to audio books or truly inspirational podcasts. All you have to do is press the play button. Listen while you’re cooking, mowing the lawn, or driving the kids to school. Listen while you’re in the shower. Listen while you’re sleeping. You’ll get it.
After all, consider the number of commercial jingles or television show theme songs you have inadvertently memorized. If anything is going to be programming your subconscious mind, why not choose the programming? Why not choose something that can change your family’s future for generations?
We always ask in our podcast what people are reading or listening to to stay sharp. To find your next eye-opening, tool sharpening tome, discuss your interests with a friend you admire, find out what has done well in the marketplace, or read reviews online. Oftentimes, we find out about a great book because it’s referenced in another book we are reading, as if we are led from one book to the next in a continual strand of wisdom.
Wisdom in the words of successful men and women throughout history can be found in books. You are who you spend time with, and you are what you read. There are many choices, with literally millions of books and audio programs that can be purchased on the “interwebs” or borrowed at your local library.
Oft’times, we “accidentally” get conditioned into reading only nonfiction books that are related to our primary field of interest (i.e., what we do); yet its incredibly useful to explore subjects that seem to have nothing to do with your occupational endeavors. It will allow your mind to expand and make its own connections. Any topic can prove useful if you’re open and ready to make the connections.
Tap into the Essence of Your Tribe
As humans, we’re always changing. You can change your future by changing your actions today. Change is inevitable, so we might as well guide the direction in which we change.
So how can you guide the direction of your change? Besides reading, you must choose your companions wisely. We all know how important the right peer group is for kids. Most parents are desperately concerned about the friends with whom their own children hang out — we understand that our kids are likely to turn out just like them.
If our children’s companions are doing drugs, failing school, or using divisive language, our kids are obviously at a greater risk for exhibiting similar behaviors. We’re concerned about our children’s choice of companions, and yet we often ignore this principle as adults.
At what age does this principle cease to work in someone’s life? Do we become immune to the influence of others at age eighteen? Twenty-one? Or maybe it’s no longer a factor at age thirty-five or forty?
You know the answer: it’s always a factor. If you are surrounded by people who use negative language, your language will tend toward that. If you hang around people with a certain lean in their viewpoints, you will be persuaded by those views. If you spend time with people who are advancing slowly, you will tend to plod along at a slower pace. If you are comfortable with people who make excuses, you will tend to shirk responsibility and accountability as well. When you tolerate mediocrity in your choice of companions, you’re going to become more accepting of mediocrity in your own life.
Guard your associations carefully. It’s critical to choose your friends with care.
And be clear, a true friend is not someone who accepts you as you are. The neighborhood kid who works the drivethru at your local fast-food restaurant accepts you as you are — because he doesn’t care much about you. A true friend holds you to a higher standard — they expect more of you. A true friend makes you better by simply having their great behaviors rub off on you. They want to see you grow. They set a good example, which is difficult to ignore.
When you were growing up, do you remember playing a game with someone who loved you and occasionally let you win? They likely didn’t let you win all of the time, because if they did, you wouldn’t get any better.
This works with the companions you choose, too. Choose allies who are better than you. If you want to get better at a sport, play with those who will beat you, because it improves your game. This concept works in business too. Surround yourself with people who are better than you. Want to become wealthier? Spend time with people who are wealthier than you. Want to become wiser? Invest time with people who have wisdom in spades; seek their counsel.
Only the simple person refuses the counsel of the wise. As a businessperson, as a parent, as a student, there is safety in wise counsel. When we take counsel from ourselves, all we can receive is what we have . . . what we know . . . what we are.
Taking the counsel of wise men and women helps us avoid bad decisions and puts us on the pathway to a more successful life. When we add someone’s wisdom to our own, we greatly increase the probability of our success.
Harness the Power of An Inner Circle
To a large degree, we are who we spend time with….our peers either stretch us or burden us.
Don’t make any decisions without counsel from others you respect. This will ensure you have a rather good track record of good decisions.
Logically, wouldn’t you be more likely to make good decisions if you’re surrounded with high-level thinking from others? What are the chances you are going to screw up big time when you have the counsel of wise people in your life?
Leverage the insights, experiences, and decision-making abilities of intelligent people — and select three or four to be on a personal board of directors to help you make decisions. Find those you can rely on and from whom you can seek counsel.
The acquisition of wisdom is greatly expedited by harnessing that of others. The idea is to surround yourself with wise people. This is a critical component of compounding wisdom!
It’s easy to create a personal board; simply find people who are smarter than you, are more skilled than you, and have more fruit on the tree in key parts of their life. Stock your personal board of directors with people who are wiser, better, healthier — those who have created for their families the life You want for yours.
With whom might you cultivate a relationship (or make better use of an existing one) to create your own personal board of directors? You may choose specific “advisors” for various areas of your life. Naturally, you wouldn’t want a “health advisor” who smokes or sits around all day watching television. We must also become masters at knowing where to seek the appropriate counsel.
List the names of potential board members and the area of your life in which they would advise you. Don’t limit yourself to the people in your inner circle; brainstorm who you’d love to have on your board of directors, even if you don’t currently have a relationship with him or her. Remember, you don’t even have to tell these people they’re on your board — it can be your own little secret. And sometimes, the information you receive will be more to the point and pure without your director aware of the pressure of “mentoring”!
Find Wisdom in Service
In addition to reading books and taking the counsel of wiser friends, the third way to chart a course toward wisdom is by serving others — find a way to help another human being. This doesn’t mean you have to do something grandiose or even something you consider incredibly useful.
Serving others could be opening the door for someone. Carry their luggage, pour their coffee, hold their chair. By serving others, we value them, and this increases our own value.
Perhaps not coincidentally, when we serve others, we increase the possibility that they would share their wisdom with us. When billionaire and shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis was in his last years, a reporter asked, “If you lost all your money, what would you do to gain it back?” He replied, “Well, it would be a process, of course. But the first step on the process of gaining a fortune, I would consider, to be serving others.”
The reporter just dropped his jaw and exclaimed, “What do you mean, serving others? I thought people served you!”
A wise person will cultivate a servant’s spirit, for that particular attribute attracts people like no other.
Onassis said, “People serve me, but it is only because throughout my life, I’ve served others. You ask, ‘How would you create a fortune?’ and the first step would be to serve others. I would put myself in a position, by serving others, to be around people who could help me, guide me, and share their wisdom and experience with me.”
Then he added: “It all has to do with the associations you create with the people whom you are around. People will want to help because you were there to hold a chair or hold a door for them.”
You can cultivate a Spirit of Service. How? Volunteer at your local shelter or community center. Visit the elderly at your local hospital. Heck, just spend more time with your family doing things they enjoy.
Can you schedule a call to a family member just to make him or her smile? Can you commit random acts of kindness, such as paying the toll or buying the drivethru meal for the car behind you?
Brainstorm a list of ideas and commit to doing at least one in the next five days. Creating wealth, even choosing wealth, begins with a servant’s attitude.
Caveat: The Danger Point
When we reach a certain level of success, it is also typical to come upon a danger point. We must always remember: we are where we are because of our best thinking, and if we want to keep improving, we must transcend that level of thinking, whether we intuitively know where to improve or are receiving good counsel from our inner circle of friends. We know way too many people on a rocket ride to success that now find themselves sidelined because they became the smartest person in the room, or at least always acted like it.
Each day provides an opportunity to demonstrate increased commitment, greater discipline, truer compassion, unbounded energy, enhanced discernment, clearer judgement, and the limitless feeling you can improve upon yesterday’s performance. Each day gifts you with more chances to live more wholesomely, to train harder, to prepare better, to think more clearly, to work much smarter and to dream even bigger dreams.
Each day is another great chance to shape and mold your destiny and to build a legacy of living more freely. It gets dangerous when, following an abundance of success, we begin to think, “I’ve got it covered. It’s wired. It’s done. I KNOW, and now I’m free to make all the decisions myself.”
With this mindset, our decisions and resultants actions begin to communicate, “I am wiser and smarter than everyone else.” As you become more successful, you’ll find the path less traveled. Certainly, there will be fewer people available to you who are stronger and wiser than you; but you can find them.
Of course, you can benefit from the thoughts of almost everyone if you’re a committed, lifelong learner. Somebody doesn’t have to be wealthier than you to be smarter than you. Everybody is superior to us in some or many ways — we can learn from anyone. The danger point occurs when we begin to think too highly of our own wisdom and start ignoring the counsel of others.
The humility of those who seek wisdom is a defining characteristic of almost all influential, wealthy, successful people. It is a unique combination of a strong will and a sincere desire to consistently learn and improve by learning from others. Real wisdom is available to all, waiting to be gathered. It can’t be bartered or sold; wisdom is a gift only for the diligent, because only the diligent will find it.
So, consider this: Your Legacy Will Last. What is the legacy you would like to leave? How will your company be made better by the work you contribute? What if your life was an experiment? How will you serve the generations that follow?
The choices you make in seeking to expand your real wisdom will determine the answers to these questions.
Scott Rivers is the Managing Director of Cerca Talent+, a talent agency for the Oncology, Genetics and Life Science Industries. Scott’s recruiting experience extends into the areas of Diagnostics, Equipment and Device, Genomics and BioInformatics. His team manages recruitment for businesses focused on these areas in all roles.
As a leader who has worked at every level of commercial, medical sales and global marketing, Scott is an intense professional who partners with organizations to fine tune talent branding. If you are a leader looking to expand your team with professionals who are focused on delivering work in which they take pride, and you can be proud of, every day, then Scott would be privileged to help you in the process. Having been a professional in the fields where you focus, Scott knows the ins and outs of the companies, the business and the customers you are working to come alongside.
Cerca Talent+ is a full-service Executive Search Firm with a strategic focus in the areas of Clinical Diagnostics, Molecular Diagnostics and Oncology, Genomic and Genetic Medicine. Our clients choose Cerca because of our deep understanding of the industries we serve. They continue to work with us based on our extensive market knowledge, vast connections and quality of results.
We Provide Top Talent to create Peak Performance. That’s a good match for any company. Partner with the group that can talk shop and gain rapport with the pros who will lead your business into the future. Email Scott Rivers today at email@example.com, or call direct at 201-594-2101, and we will begin the process of finding you Top Gun Talent guaranteed to help you set records.
Source: Andy Andrews, The Traveler’s Gift
Top 3+ Ways to Rapidly Reach Peak Performance
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