Wisdom, that elusive information that changes us from one day to another. I like how these words from Confucius remind us that there are three ways to gain wisdom – reflection, imitation, and experience. If we are smart, we employ all three at various times in our life, knowing which one to employ when is the trick.
Reflection means being still, quiet and thinking about things. Reviewing situations, pondering how it could have gone better, smarter, or even have been more relationship oriented. Being still allows us to learn by reviewing what happened through a different lense, which often helps us better understand how to have it go differently next time. Failure to review and think means we will miss the true lesson and most likely repeat the mistakes, until we invest the quiet time, reflect and learn.
Imitation means watching successful people handle things and repeat how they did it. What worked for them will work for us, right? Most of the time that is true, most of the time. We are not them, which means what they did will most likely work for us…key words being most likely. Imitation is easy as it does not require as much thought, until it doesn’t work for us. It is important to also be sure to imitate the right things. Just because someone wants to be overbearing, cruel and brutal does not mean that avenue is the best one for us to employ. Monkey see, monkey do may sound easier yet to be successful we need to be prudent in what we choose to imitate.
Experience, that joyful yet painful way of learning. Try something, see how it works, try it again, and keep going to perfect the way you do it your way. This way of gaining wisdom can be bitter sweet as the knowledge gained is usually never forgotten. My best lessons have been learned through trial and error, my own experiences being the most powerful. Both mistakes and triumphs bring us experiences we can leverage moving forward to continue along the path to success.
Reflections, imitation, experience. Three paths we can choose to employ each day to gain the wisdom we need to be a better version of ourselves. Taking time to reflect, imitating the right things, and learning through our own experiences work together to make us wise. Why not try doing each one today and see how they work for you? You may be surprised how much wisdom you gain that you can leverage to make your tomorrow a better day.