Friday’s Off expose the 7 attributes of wise people in the context of decision making
“There is something here I do not know, the knowing of which could change everything.”
– Neale Donald Walsh
Have you ever had that nagging feeling that something does not feel right about the decision you are about to make? The facts may seem to support the decision, but perhaps something is still missing and your intuition is raising a red flag.
Perhaps it’s wise to recap on your thinking pathway, to ensure all relevant aspects and facts have been considered and it’s not only a smart decision but wise at the same time.
Questions like the following will help.
- Have the needs of all relevant stakeholders been considered?
- Have the assumptions that underpin projections and conclusions been subject to some form of objective scrutiny?
- Have all direct and consequential impacts of decisions been explored, are they acceptable and can be tolerated if adverse?
- If this decision turned out to be incorrect, how quickly will we know and where would the warning signs within the business be felt?
Questions like this help road test the logic of our decision making which allows changes to be made prior to implementation.
With that in mind here are my top 7 attributes of wise people in the context of decision making:
- Deep introspection
They are able to examine their attitudes, actions & behaviours at a deep and authentic level. They are comfortable putting their egos aside and deal with objective reality, even if it means uncovering & tackling tough challenges.
- Question mastery
It’s the question that enlightens, more than the answer provided, in many instances. Wise people know that the answer to problems lies 4 to 5 questions deep. They seek the precise clarity that emerges from the right questions posed with purpose, empathy & respect.
In simple terms they know;
- The precise problem to be solved and what the perfect outcome looks like.
- The right first question to ask.
- The right second or return question upon receiving the first answer.
- The right next best questions following further responses.
- When those responses are complete and no further questions are required because the ‘AHA’ or solution discovery moment has been reached.
- Internal validation
Wise people look inwardly for validation rather than seeking external approval or abiding by the consensus of others purely because it’s a majority view. They possess the courage of their own convictions to withstand scrutiny and possible criticism.
- Holistic view
Understand the wider impact that decision making may have on their lives and that of others. They are considerate in terms of that impact, particularly if its negative.
- Self -reflection
Learn through reflective knowledge of their past decision making and embed that wisdom in routines, habits, processes and business tools. They solve problems once, and only once.
- Effective listeners
Wise people understand that we have two ears and one tongue for a reason. They listen fast and talk slow. It’s difficult to truly understand unless we take the time to listen with an open mind and focus on what the other person is saying rather than merely waiting for our turn to talk.
- Discerning filterers
‘’In the beginners mind there are many possibilities; in the experts there are few’’ – Suzuki Roshi
We are exposed to a barrage of information supplied in electronic and other forms. The question is what information should we take in and what should we filter and ignore? This is essentially a matter of clarity over what really matters and ensuring that’s where the focus of our time and attention is. It’s easier to say NO when you have a burning YES inside. Wise people know their YES.
Finally, my daughter was asking recently whether I thought a young person could have wisdom and what is the difference between being smart and wise? Good questions I thought and I need to respond wisely!
My instinctive and simple response was that smart or intelligent people have the ability to apply knowledge in a variety of purposeful ways to enhance their lives. It’s the ability to learn, adapt and implement the knowledge that is a key attribute.
On the other hand, wise people have the ability to take that information one step further and evaluate its use beyond gratifying immediate needs. It is the ability to look at decision making in a broader context similar to the 7 attributes outlined above.
I also thought that general wisdom grows and matures with age. However, I did not rule out the possibility that younger people could possess it, especially with my daughter sitting opposite me, that would have not been a wise thing to do!