Wisdom. A Gentleman must always stay in the active mode of learning by observing, questioning, and monitoring his motives, respecting and listening to the views of others while still staying true to his core values. He practices humility yet exudes confidence. He gives and serves by making himself available to aid others, especially those who cannot reciprocate his kindness.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, byimitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius

We have all heard the phrase: “If I knew then what I know now.“ It’s a testament to the lessons we learn in hindsight and not with foresight. Oh, If we could all go back in time like Marty McFly of Back To the Future, get into the DeLorean and rewrite the things we call mistakes today. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, technology hasn’t gotten that far yet. So, we are left with the task of learning in the three ways Confucius describes in the above quote: ReflectionImitation, and Experience. As a gentleman it’s important to learn this vital quality, whether it is by one or all of these methods.

Wisdom is the act of bringing knowledge, discernment, and understanding together and puts them to work. You cannot gain wisdom without knowledge. You cannot effectively use knowledge without understanding and you cannot acquire wisdom without discernment. To put it bluntly, if you are not firing on all four of these cylinders it will be very difficult to make the right decisions you need for your life-walk. Because wisdom means putting knowledge and understanding to work in a way that produces positive results in your life. This quality emphasizes having sound judgment based on keen knowledge and real understanding. Wisdom enables us to successfully to solve problems, to avoid or avert dangers, to help others, and to meet goals.

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Got a PC or a Mac? They’re brilliant in their ability to store enormous amounts of data or knowledge. Remember Watson, Microsoft’s supercomputer that was able to beat two humans in the game of Jeopardy? It was lightning fast, held vast terabytes of information and won a great amount of money for charity, but life isn’t a game show and you can’t imagine anyone calling the machines wise or using them solely to make decisions on how to live their lives. However, knowledge and wisdom are related.

“Wisdom is not wisdom when it is derived from books alone.” – Horace

Knowledge is the acquaintance or familiarity with facts gained by observation and experience or by reading and reflection (those three criteria’s again) is fundamental to wisdom. But if we do not have the ability to put it to good use, our knowledge would be of little value. Acquiring understanding is also essential. Without it, could we really see how facts relate to one another and get the complete picture of a matter under consideration? If we lacked understanding, how could we perceive the whys and wherefores of things and gain insight and discernment? To be able to put two and two together and come up with the right conclusion, we need understanding.
A gentleman needs to develop all of these qualities if he is going to be able to help himself and be of assistance to others. Knowing the reasons why something is or isn’t to be acted upon, how it should or shouldn’t be done is just as important as the thought, energy and motive behind such an act. This is a trait that businesses, diplomats and ultimately men need to develop and excel in. So how does one practically gain this type of insight? Some study books and go to various schools to attain degrees that make them experts in their field. Some have lived and have been enrolled in the school of “hard knocks,” taking each experience in “applied living” to learn and become better persons. Some have even practiced the art of observation, learning from academic or spiritual mentors and thus overall come off unscathed, dodging some of life’s many dangers.

“Cleverness is not wisdom.” Euripides

Whether you want to admit it or not we all like to believe our own hype, believe our own press. Sometimes when we have a touch of success or meet a certain goal there is a tendency to revel in our own “cleverness,” which gives us the confidence to conquer the next goal. Wisdom is the balance between confidence and conceit. A wise person celebrates his accomplishments, while always having enough humility to:

  1. Understand his abilities
  2. Recognize his limitations
  3. Attempts to improve himself
  4. Knows when one is jeopardizing the other.

A wise person will always consider all knowable facts before addressing or acting on a matter. This doesn’t mean that a wise person never makes mistakes or doesn’t leave room for the spontaneity or improvisation of life, he just knows what is prudent and what is not.

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”-Doug Larson

Lastly, a wise person listens. He has the keen purposeful ear of a student. A Gentleman must always stay in the active mode of learning by observing, questioning, and monitoring his motives, respecting and listening to the views of others while still staying true to his core values. A wise person does more listening than he does talking. He learns by taking a genuine interest in others, it’s the reason that most people love to be around him. because of his confidence in his core values, he is able to hear opposing viewpoints and still remain sure in his own beliefs. He is also humble enough when he is faced with the possibility of his view being untrue. He is a Learner.  He is a student of Balance. He is not the first one to voice his opinion nor the last. When  offered the opportunity to speak, he does so with purpose and substance. He knows a good joke, but in good taste. He may know a great place to eat, shop, or find a great deal. Yet, he is not above sharing what he knows.  He understands the importance of dates, events and experiences that mean something to the people he engages with because he listens. His goal is not to win debates, to convince or placate, it is to understand others. Once he understands, he knows how to deal with each person: his friends, his boss, his clients, his family and even complete strangers. He makes himself available to help others. This why he is considered wise.
When we develop this quality, we become something better, something more. We make better decisions financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually but more importantly,  we can use this reflection, imitation and experience to help others.

“Wisdom stands at the turn in the road and calls upon us publicly, but we consider it false and despise its adherents.” – Kahlil Gibran

“I will be a man of  Wisdom. I will keep the keen,  purposeful ear of a student, with the humble insight and understanding of a teacher by living a life of deep purpose and focus.”

The next and last quality we will discuss is Power.

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