Wisdom results from our application of knowledge – from using what we know to change (or intentionally stabilize) a situation, alter the life of another, or accomplish something that had not yet been considered. One can be wise, however, without having (or demonstrating) much common sense or practical knowledge. We can know all the facts and understand all their ramifications but cannot initiate or accomplish change unless we act upon the things we know rather than simply building upon them to form a hopelessly tall (and self-contained) tower. Simply knowing many facts, always asking the right questions and appearing to have all the answers may make us smart but unless (and until) we apply the facts we have learned to change a situation or circumstance that we have never encountered we will never demonstrate wisdom.
Today’s world is afloat with facts, data and information and resources yet it seems that problem-solving skills are less likely to be demonstrated than ever before as many have difficulty trying to apply their wealth of knowledge to un-related circumstances within their daily lives. We run before we walk as our impatience rules the day. We pursue the impossible (or at least the improbable) rather than finding comfort in the reality of “what is” and extrapolating it into that which has not yet become – far too often leaping ahead without thought or direction. Knowing what to do and doing what is right within a given set of circumstances is not always the same thing (situational ethics?). We are taught to memorize facts and regurgitate answers on tests that measure what we were taught rather than what we may have learned during the lessons. While knowledge may be the building block of wisdom, it does not shine as a light in the darkness until it is appropriately applied.
Impatience and intolerance have become the driving factors in “effective” communication with the analysis of data initiating deliberate (and specific) action designed to resolve a known problem using the process developed by others in a similar situation – minimizing the impact of creativity in the face of reality. Integrity was once an integral part of an individual’s make-up – it now seems to be an insignificant backdrop to life’s everyday drama. Relationships once rooted in honesty now seem built upon circumstance fed by individual desires, validated by sincere apologies and justified by “the wisdom of the crowd.” It seems that the application of information to create a viable solution – taking the risk required to make a difference by being unique in thought and action – is less about “doing things right” and more about “just doing it.” Knowing what to do (because we have learned facts or seen similar situations in the past) is a good start to transforming our knowledge into wisdom. To be credible and effective in the demonstrative application of our wisdom we must say what we are going to do, do what we say and show others that we are predictable, consistent and fair in our actions. We must recognize and consistently honor the values, likes, dislikes and preferences of others as we pull them along with us (rather than trying to push them ahead to test the waters before stepping in).