I’ve often referred to intelligent people as “wise” without really drawing a distinction between wisdom and intelligence. I recently watched this TED talk by Barry Schwartz that talks about our “loss of wisdom.” In the talk, Schwartz says, “The good news is that you don’t need to be brilliant to be wise. The bad news is that without wisdom, brilliance isn’t enough.”
I have had some difficult business and personal interactions in the past few weeks that relied more on knowing (and doing) the right thing than on how intelligent any of the involved people were. As the dictionary says, wisdom is “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action.” Or as Schwartz says in his talk, “practical wisdom is the combination of moral will and moral skill.” Aristotle believed that practical wisdom came from experience, that you learned over time and trial how to behave in certain situations. Knowledge of the world and of people is only one part; doing the right thing once we recognize it is the other piece of wisdom.
Here is the quote from the TED Talk that is sticking with me as I go about my work and life this week:
“The truth is, that any work that you do that involves interaction with other people is moral work, and any moral work depends upon practical wisdom.” ~Barry Schwartz
I hadn’t really thought of my work as “moral work” or considered the wisdom involved. How about you? Did you watch the TED talk? What do you think about practical wisdom in our everyday lives? Do you try to become wiser every day?