Special Episode – What is Wisdom?

Wisdom
In this special episode the four of us, Jeffery Wang, Siebe Van Der Zee, Dr. Duff Watkins, and Robert Hossary discuss the deep topic of wisdom. We ask the question “What is wisdom?” and try to answer that from the lessons learned from our guests and from our own experiences. We have been asking this question of ourselves since we began. So we thought that we would share this discussion with our audience. Let us know your thoughts on what you think wisdom is.

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About Our Hosts

Dr Duff Watkins

Dispensing sound career advice for 25+ years. Duff is a former group psychotherapist who’s run an executive search firm for many years. He’s past President of the Yale Club in Australia, a long-time Governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. He hosted the international podcast “How Business Really Works” and is a founder of this podcast, 10 Lessons It Took Me 50 Years to Learn

Siebe Van Der Zee

Siebe is President of Vanderzee & Associates, Executive Search & Coaching. He has served as an international management consultant for over 25 years. For 28 years, Siebe has served as Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Arizona. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management and he is a current member of the International Leadership Council at GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council).

Jeffery Wang

Jeffery is the founder of Professional Development Forum, an organisation dedicated to help young professionals find fulfilment in the modern Australian workplace for more than 13 years. Since its inception, the forum has hosted multitudes of successful, remarkable, and inspiring leaders. Through this journey, Jeffery developed a passion for empowering culturally diverse talent and unlocking their leadership potential. Jeffery is a passionate advocate of genuine diversity, servant leadership and mentorship and engages actively both as a mentor and mentee. Jeffery has almost 20 years of experience working as a sales and strategy professional in the IT Industry looking after enterprise and government customers. He has lived in Taiwan and New Zealand before migrating to Sydney where he currently lives with his wife and two boys.

Robert Hossary

Robert has been involved in international business for the past two decades. Since 2011 – 2018, Robert was the General Manager for the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia (AmCham) and helped advise many Australian and US companies about their international expansion requirements. Prior to that, Robert was Regional Vice President for the Americas for a technology manufacturer. He has also worked in Taiwan with responsibility for Asia Pacific and the Middle East. With a background in Technology, Transport, Fashion and Healthcare, Robert has a wealth of experience to share.

Ten Lessons – What is Wisdom

Jeffery Wang: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn – wisdom for the next generation. This is a special episode where the four hosts of this show,. Dr. Duff Watkins, Siebe Vanderzee, Robert Hossary and me – Jeffery Wang.

We want to explore the age old question. What is wisdom. So Dr. Duff Watkins is our resident former psychotherapist who also doubles as a executive search consultant, currently holidaying in Brazil.

Duff Watkins: [00:00:29] I’m not on a holiday I’m stranded in Brazil! I can’t go home!

Jeffery Wang: [00:00:34] Stranded in Brazil. Okay. And, uh, we have Siebe Vanderzee, who is an executive search guru, our Dutchmen in the desert who currently has an NBA team in the Western conference finals, the Phoenix suns, one of my favorites. And Robert Hossary our producer with the radio voice and a wicked sense of humor and myself, Jeffrey Wang, I’m the founder of the Professional Development Forum.

Now you think that when we embarked upon this podcast, we’ve come to an agreement as to what constitute wisdom. But, uh, we shoot from the hip and plow straight into it only coming to realize that we each have a slightly different idea as to what wisdom is.

Now I believe that different perspectives each of us bring to this podcast, brings it the unique richness that it has. And I, for one have learned so much from my other esteemed co-hosts. Now, today, I want to delve deeper into this concept of wisdom. What constitute wisdom and how do we find it?

According to the dictionary definition of wisdom in Wikipedia, as you go to of all places, wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding common sense and insight.

Charles Spurgeon define wisdom as the right use of knowledge.  And, um, this one, I really liked the ability to foresee the consequences of your action. In other words, wisdoms allows you to better grapple with the world. And this one I like as well, uh, Meacham in their study says, uh, wisdom is a capacity to have the full knowledge of something, to know the consequences, both positive and negative of all the available courses of action and to yield or take the options with the most advantage either for present or future implication.

Duff Watkins: [00:02:15] I think he’s wrong.

Jeffery Wang: [00:02:17] You think he’s wrong? Okay.

Duff Watkins: [00:02:19] I think he’s wrong.

Jeffery Wang: [00:02:20] the reason I read you all that is just so that I can go around and see what your take on what wisdom actually is now.

Duff Watkins: [00:02:27] We’ve been debating. What is wisdom ever since we started this podcasts, we have four principles here, so we have four different views, but we’re not the only ones. I mean, there is actually a substantial body of research dedicated to,defining wisdom, which I didn’t know.

One of our upcoming guests on the show, speaking of psychiatrist, he is a psychiatrist, Dr. Dilip Jest, who wrote a book, it’s a very recent book called “Wiser” and as a psychiatrist he studying what is wisdom? And can you get it? The answer is yes. And can you get it faster? Again the answer is yes. And this whole book is dedicated to that, but he puts down a few criteria about what wisdom is.

So let me, let me share with you some of the things that he came up with it’s having, well, let me tell you what wisdom is not. Let’s start with that. It’s not intelligence. It’s not, um, being smart. That’s not enough. It’s not being well-educated certainly isn’t being old. You can be old and be very, very unwise question is can you be young and wise?

No, you cannot be. You need age, you need this experience that comes with age to be wise. Um, I’ll just stop there. Does that ring a bell with any of you guys?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:03:42] Well, one of the, one of the items that I was thinking off when it comes to wisdom, Duff, is wisdom resist the attempts of our intellect to define it.

 I thought that was an interesting start to this conversation because if we think we can define wisdom, um, maybe not.

Jeffery Wang: [00:04:04] Are you saying that the attempt to define wisdom is folly?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:04:07] No, it’s just that it’s. Wisdom is evolving, it depends on the situation. It could be based on cultural differences. I don’t think there is an ultimate definition of wisdom because it evolves and it can change over time.

There is something about it that we all have, human beings, a need to understand things better and to have a purpose in life. And to a certain extent, I think wisdom is, is, uh, like a fulfillment of nourishing our inner longing for deeper meaning and purpose. How was that for the conversation?

Robert Hossary: [00:04:50] That’s pretty good. Siebe. I’m impressed with that. Um, I don’t really have anything to add. If you want my take, wisdom is nothing without compassion, I suppose the spirituality that goes with the individual that wants to do what we’re doing – share it.

What is the point of wisdom? That’s what I look at. What is the point of wisdom? If not to share. As Andrew Tyndale said, um, not to pay the stupid tax for the next generation.

Jeffery Wang: [00:05:25] You touched on a very good point there. Rob and also there’s a little bit to unpack there. So what I like what Siebe said, and that calls into the age old question, whether wisdom is universal. So are there, you know, being an international podcast, you realize that this thing could cover a whole swath of population that lives in very, very different realities. If it lives in very different cultures, completely different life experiences, but is wisdom shared across these different life experiences? Are there a universal truths that we can speak of?

Duff Watkins: [00:05:57] Yeah, definitely because you know it, when you see it and then I can give you some American examples.

So like Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, these are considered wise people in the America. But to use references with this, Rob will be familiar. Obi wan Kenobi, Gandalf, the grey people in his world.

Robert Hossary: [00:06:16] Yeah. But both Obiwan and Gandalf were not wise in their youth.

Duff Watkins: [00:06:21] Didn’t say they were, but I just said there wise people and you recognize hem, it’s the same with Yoda.

I mean, you know, these are wise beings and when you see them, you recognize, okay. So how do you recognize it? What is the basis by which you recognize wisdom?

Robert Hossary: [00:06:35] That’s a good point. Um, in traditional Western society, I suppose in traditional society, both Western and Eastern, uh, it is age, but we’ve just said that. You can be old and not wise.

And we all know very old unwise people, but, uh, you Duff said that you can’t be wise and young, but if wisdom is experience and you’re young and you absorbed that experience, do you absorb that wisdom as well?

Duff Watkins: [00:07:11] No, it’s not just experience. Experience as a necessary ingredient. Let me tell you some of the ingredients I came up with from research.

Okay. To be wise, you’d have to have rich factual knowledge. You got to know stuff, right. And you also have to have, you have to have no the procedural knowledge, how to get things done, how to deal with life. So it can’t just be something that, you know, it’s gotta be something that you put into action. Then there’s also, you have to have some sort of an understanding of life’s context.

Siebe was talking about culture and things like that. And you’re right. It’s wise in a certain context, you have to understand the context in which things are occurring. Acknowledging that people have different values and different priorities than you is also part of wisdom, acknowledging that people are different.

And finally understanding that knowing the limits of your own knowledge is a big part of wisdom, knowing that you don’t know at all, how was that for a basis of wisdom?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:08:12] I’m not sure if I completely agreed that it is an age limit that suddenly you have to reach in order to be wise or to have that wisdom.

I think some individuals learn very important lessons at a very young age, and there are perhaps a lot of people at more senior age. Where you can doubt the level of wisdom that they have gained and outgrew meat. I don’t mean it in a disrespectful way, but it’s not by definition, age. Um, one of the things I I read about in preparation is wisdom is to store of knowledge that a society or culture has collected over a long period of time.

And I asked myself the question. First of all, what is the definition of universal?  Universal wisdom, uh, applicable in all cases perhaps. And I think seeking wisdom is universal. I think most people are looking for wisdom over time. Wisdom itself, as we discussed a little bit ago can evolve. And the substance of what wisdom is can evolve.

If you look at science, what we have learned about our planet, where in the past it was well, uh, perhaps based on religion or, or other, uh, thought processes. Now we are learning more. We still don’t know everything, but we, we learned a lot of factual data and we as a society decide that’s the wisdom to base our thinking on. Not sure if this fits with what you just mentioned Duff, but I find it difficult to put a timeline on it. It’s really that individual and his or her experience.

Jeffery Wang: [00:10:12] Well, the problem is that  we see the world through our own individual lens. Very few of us have been in other people’s bodies, if any, at all. And so how do you know that what you deem to be wisdom? What your life experiences and what’s worked for you. How do you know that that’s definitely going to work for somebody else, you know, case in point, you know, somebody with a different appearance might experience the world a little bit differently. And so that, you know why these considered as conventional wisdom for you may not work for somebody else.

Are there things which are universal to all human beings?  Do we all, seek the same things? Now I know we certainly want different things. That’s why we have an economy and we’re blessed with different gifts and, and all that people  can trade with each other. Uh, and certain people want certain things more than each other. Some people want money, some people want fame, some people want family, some people want fulfillment. Is there something that’s universal to us all? That is a, a piece of wisdom that ultimately applies to us all?

Now I don’t think we’ll ever be able to prove any of this because we’ll never know from somebody else’s perspective. But my belief is, that there is a universal set of wisdom that we as human beings all share. And there are certain things that I think will be truth that, that, that people will uncover as they go.

I think the ultimate goal, for me, used to be finding success, which may be the success in the conventional sense.  Where you’re trying to find more money, more status, more power, more of the traditional stuff.

But I think as, as I get older, I realize that we are, as human beings, we seek fulfillment. And fulfillment comes into more of a sense of meaning, knowing that  you have made a difference. Yeah. And I think this goes into what Rob was alluding to earlier in his point, that wisdom need to speak to something much deeper.

You know, it needs to speak to something more spiritual, something that constitute virtue. So the question here is what separates wisdom from, I suppose intelligence is that.

Intelligent people can make a lot of money, because they understand, they can observe the world, they understand how it operates. But wise people knows the difference between how to make money the right way so that you don’t leave a trail of destruction behind you. Now what do you, what do you say to that sort of concept?

Robert Hossary: [00:12:28] I hear you. There’s nothing that you, you said that I disagree with.

I’m very hesitant to hang success on wisdom. You can be really wise and not successful. Um,

Jeffery Wang: [00:12:42] Depends on how you define success though don’t you think?

Robert Hossary: [00:12:44] It depends on how you define success, uh, and, and that is as elusive as how you define wisdom. But what we do here on 10 lessons is we share lessons.  I think Siebe interviewed this guest, Steve Zylstra um, one of his lessons, which resounded, because we all get this, is “yes, dad was right.”

Now think about that. I mean, that is the nub of wisdom. That is, that is where wisdom starts in every family. Listen to your damn parents. Well, we’re not going to do that because we’re young and it brings me to the mechanics of wisdom. And you all might disagree with this, but go with me on this. So  it’s a level of, of competencies.

You start off with unconscious incompetence. You don’t know what you don’t know, conscious competence. You know what you don’t know. Oh, sorry. Conscious incompetence. You know what? You don’t know. Conscious competence, you know what you know, and unconscious competence, you don’t know what you know, and once you keep stepping through those, you to.

Developing evolving. And I believe that is where wisdom starts being formed. And that’s where you start learning and understanding as Duff said, or receivers had those processes that you need to adopt to get to the next level, to the point where they become innate, they become natural, but yeah. It’s the spirituality behind it, the virtual behind the person and that comes through self-awareness.

So I think there’s multiple conduits to get you to a state of wisdom.

Duff Watkins: [00:14:32] Well, history and science support you because the people that, whether you go back to the ancient, stoic philosophers, I mentioned George Washington, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton,

Robert Hossary: [00:14:43] And don’t forget Marcus Aurelius!

Duff Watkins: [00:14:45] I’m just about to say Marcus Aurelius.

Every single one of them practiced wisdom. This goes back to your point a point you made, Siebe, I’ve been thinking about, do most people want to be wise? Do most people care about being wise? I’m not so sure. I do know that you have to practice it. You have to pursue it. Rehearse it, implement it in your life.

Otherwise you’ll just be another dumb ass of which there are so many of course. It’s something that you really have to work at if you want to be wise. I guess that’s what I’m saying is no one becomes wise by accident. You really have to think about it and ponder it and consider the implications.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:15:27] I was looking at this a little bit earlier. Uh, intelligence is commonly known. Or commonly associated with knowing something, knowledge. Wisdom is not only knowledge, but it’s also understanding.

And in a way, if you have intelligence you can connect the dots over time. And then perhaps you create with that wisdom. There is a distinction between knowing and understanding and that’s what makes it interesting. Right? The other thought in this conversation is, wisdom as a virtue for good, for better, for improvement.

But what about smart people that use their knowledge, their understanding to do bad things, uh, criminals or

Robert Hossary: [00:16:17] Are they wise Siebe? 

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:16:19] That’s the question right? And I saw the term wisdom deprivation. So there is wisdom, but it’s used for a negative outcome as we would judge it.

Duff Watkins: [00:16:30] Well you’re right. I mean, we’ll use history, Napoleon, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Mao Tse Tung. Those are smart guys. I mean, you might not like it, but they were smart guys. Do we consider them wise? No, we don’t, because wisdom is intensely moral and its basis, in its essence and intensely moral in the sense there is a code that wise people live by. There and it’s maybe they construct it or maybe they find it or share it. I don’t know, but they try to live to a standard of some sort and unwise people don’t. Certainly the bad people were talking about don’t.

Robert Hossary: [00:17:05] That is something I can get fully behind. Duff. Not to plug what we’re doing, but we’re doing this because morally we want to leave a better world. We’re living proof of the point you’ve just made, that with wisdom. It has to be rooted in morality.

Jeffery Wang: [00:17:23] I could not agree more with that comment. And indeed, that is the fundamental motivation for us doing this. The reason why we pursue wisdom is because we’re thirsty for meaning, we’re thirsty for doing something that is right.

And the difference between an intelligent person and a wise person, I think it’s exactly that. The intelligent person can certainly grapple with the world to get the outcomes that they want, but a wise person gets the outcome that it should be, rather than just to their own desires. The pursuit for wisdom at the same time, is a pursuit for what’s ultimately right. Ultimately what’s moral.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:18:01] Well, I just want to add to the mix here, because we were using names of philosophers. Socrates is of course, one of them talked about virtue is knowledge.

All living things, aim for their perceived good. And therefore, if anyone does not know, what is good, he cannot do what is good.  If someone knows what is good, he will do what is good because he will aim for what is good. This text came apparently from Socrates. 400 Before Christ. So I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it seems to fit with what we’re discussing here.

Jeffery Wang: [00:18:41] So Socrates, I’m glad you brought up Socrates because he was the wisest man in Athens because he knew the limitations or what he didn’t know. He asks questions all the time. He challenged the basis of the assumptions that the men of his time had, and for that he drove everyone mad.

But you touched on a very interesting concept that I want to unpack a little bit, because I believe the prerequisite to gaining wisdom is the humility to know the limitations of what you know, or what you hold to be true. And the humility to except that what you might think you know, and this is why we ask that lesson, “what have you unlearned that you’ve always held to be true”?  In every episode.

For a person to be wise, I believe the prerequisite is that you have the humility and the openness to be able to see alternative perspectives, facts, alternative opinions to be able to better understand the world and create a different model to see that. So how important is humility and can a person achieve wisdom without humility?

Robert Hossary: [00:19:44] Yeah, I think, uh, I totally disagree with the word humility.

There’s no such thing as humility. Nobody is humble. It’s a conscious decision of, I better act this way so that people think that I’m like this. Self-awareness is to me anyway, the real humility. To be self-aware enough to know what you don’t know, to be self-aware enough to know that you have been biased in a thought process or in a way you’ve treated someone and fix that.

That to me is what humility is. But for most people, humility is “oh well, I’d better not big note myself”. And I think that’s false. That is absolute false.

Duff Watkins: [00:20:26] I don’t think that’s humility, but can I just say so much cynicism from one so young Rob is very disconcerting to somebody like me. Right?

Robert Hossary: [00:20:34] My hair is as grey as yours yeah,

Duff Watkins: [00:20:39] well, I think humility does exist, but yeah, I think if you don’t have, developed or achieved or acquired humility, somehow, some sort of openness, openness to being corrected. Then you got no hope of being wise, because life just comes at you and correct you with so much ongoing corrective feedback that if you’re resisting it, you know,

Robert Hossary: [00:21:03] But Duff wouldn’t you agree? Wouldn’t you agree Duff that self-awareness is the most important part of all of this, because if you’re not self-aware how the hell are you going to know that you’re wrong? Or how are you going to accept any of the new information coming?

Duff Watkins: [00:21:20] Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. I’m not disagreeing. Self-awareness, to me self-acceptance is where I like to start with people, but that’s part of self-awareness too. Understanding what your biases, your prejudices, your dislikes, your rational, your non rational aspects. I’m just accepting them. And just starting there with that, then you can start the corrective action, if you’re so inclined. Which, you know, maybe people are not.

Jeffery Wang: [00:21:44] I’d like to ask all of you. Is there a lesson that you’ve heard so far from one of our speakers that really, really resonated with you personally. Now, my guess is it’s going to be something that touched on a moral value that you hold very deeply yourself.

Duff Watkins: [00:22:01] There’s a lot of them, you know, one that just came to mind though, when I was talking to Dr. Robert Lustig, one of his points of wisdom was “institutions don’t love you back”. Now. I knew that already. I mean, I’d had my own personal experience, but, you know, it’s when you find that out for the first time that employer, that university, that hospital, that, that, that organization, which you’ve developed and invest is so much.

That you care about, they don’t care for you. They don’t love you back because it’s an institution. When you realize that, that’s a big moment in a person’s life. And when he said that it, that, that cast me back years ago to when I learned the lesson, the hard way, that institutions don’t love you back. To me, it’s an existential milestone, a maturation.

When you realize that, and more importantly, when you stop expecting institutions to love you back,

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:22:56] I wanna also say at this moment we have had some pretty impressive guests. The one that stands out was from Jacob Butler, native American artists here in the United States. And he talked about the greatest change I can affect is my own. And his story indeed was very powerful. He was as a young man, he was angry. He didn’t like people. He was, you know, rightly or wrongly, he was upset. And he came to the realization that’s not the way to go through life. And that lesson is something that perhaps every person, I don’t know, but many people go through, that you’re on a certain track and we always think we are doing the right thing. We’re saying the right things where we’re doing the right things and you come to a point that. Oops. Maybe that’s not the right approach. Maybe I should have done it differently or, from here on I’m going to approach things differently. I thought that was one of the lessons that I really liked.

Robert Hossary: [00:24:01] Well, I will take up the whole conversation. I’ve got two. Look, what struck me and made me look inside to see what have I done? How have I been challenged by this? One was Diana White with listened for empathy and comprehension. As a sales professional, I listen for sales clues so I can answer the client and sell the next thing.

That was how I, I got trained, but to listen for comprehension, made me stop and think about how I communicate with people. That is good, because if I can understand what you’re saying to me, if I can empathize with your point of view, then the world would be a little better. I might not agree with you, but I’ll be able to see it from your perspective.

I’m listening to you to listen to you. Not to respond, not to find a solution. So I really liked that. And the other one is pretty self-explanatory from a Guillaume Lucci, which is “leave the money, take the opportunity”. I’ve done that several times in my career and when I did that, when I left the money and took the opportunity, I started collecting adventures. It was wonderful. So I find those two lessons really insightful as far as developing my self-awareness and understanding of.

Jeffery Wang: [00:25:38] Well, for me, this is a lesson that a believe it or not, I’ve only realized in the last couple of years, and that is “fill your heart with gratitude”.

For the longest time. I never understood why people pray before a meal. I never understood why we thank people for things that are always there. You know, the electricity is always there and, you know, things that you already have. Why are you thankful for them?

What I didn’t realize was that having gratitude changes the way you see the world. And it honestly, indeed is the key to happiness, because you could have a lot of things. And when you don’t feel gratitude for having it,  it’s almost like you don’t have it. And it’s such a psychological change in my mind, once I realized the power of having gratitude in, in the quality of my life and the quality of how I see everything around me. I realized now that I’m so thankful for having such great people in my life. Whereas if I had met you five years ago, Duff, I’d probably would have taken you for granted.

Robert Hossary: [00:26:38] We still do take him for granted.

Duff Watkins: [00:26:40] A large deposit in a Swiss bank account in my name would go a long way for expressing gratitude.

What you just hit, this is important, Dr. Jeste, in his book about wisdom. He says, you want to get wise? Okay. Here’s what you do. You practice two things. One, gratitude, just what you’re saying. And the other is compassion and that includes self compassion. But you got to practice them, gratitude and compassion. And the compassion towards others, but also towards yourself. And you start doing that and you’ll get wise fast.

Robert Hossary: [00:27:13] Yep.

Jeffery Wang: [00:27:14] And here is the bonus. You also live a much better life. Your quality of life improve. You’ll feel happy, you’ll be fulfilled.

Unfortunately I think what I’m seeing a lot in the world right now is this victimhood mentality.

There’s this culture of people feeling like they are oppressed feeling like they’re a disadvantaged. When in reality, they probably lived a better life than anyone before. We’ve got these things in our hands now, the richest person on earth in the turn of the century, Rockefeller, did not have access to a streaming service to give them all the movies in the world.

It could be argued that we have a better quality of life than pretty much the richest person in the 19th century, and yet we don’t have that sense of gratitude to understand exactly where we are today. And I think that’s rather depressing. That’s my lesson.

Um, and unsurprisingly it’s from Andrew Tyndale, who I’ve always regarded as a great mentor of mine, who ultimately changed a lot of how I see the world today. 

On the flip side. Is there a lesson that you’ve heard so far that  you either disagree with it in terms of wisdom because you might not have experienced it in your life, or that you don’t agree that it constitutes wisdom.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:28:24] I’m gonna combine that lesson that I didn’t mention in the first round, combined with a lesson that perhaps I disagree with. And I say it is of course, with the greatest respect for the guests. It’s more of combination.

Brad Casper talked about leadership is not a title. One can lead from any position on the org chart or within any organization. I liked that. I also heard the lesson, from Alan Haseldon who I really enjoyed. His first lesson learned was you need an org chart, show people where they are and what their responsibilities are. And then subsequent conversation had to do with a matrix organization.

That was kind of like ridiculous. The lesson that was added to that by Alan was identify bad actors and weed them out. I like disruption. I like indeed, individuals in organizations that don’t fit the format, that go against it, but have something to contribute. And I think that is extremely important.

So if I’m looking for a lesson that perhaps I disagree with, if I understand it correctly, what was mentioned, then I would say yes. Forget the org chart. That’s not what it’s all about and also identify bad actors and weed them out. That’s a horrible way to work in an organization to look for bad actors and weed them out, maybe the boss is the bad actor, and the boss should be weeded out.

That’s just my point. Again, looking as lessons that perhaps I disagree with. 

Robert Hossary: [00:30:09] I not disagreeing with you by the way. But it’s a really, really big topic. And sometimes the boss is the bad actor, but we won’t go down that, that road, we’ll have that conversation another time look,

I don’t know if anybody’s ever said this, but they’ve alluded to it. Some of our guests have alluded to these two points and I want to bring them up. The first is treat other people the way you want to be treated. Now we’ve been talking about cultural awareness in this show on this show for, since we started. You can’t treat other people the way you want to be treated, unless you’re from exactly the same cultural background. And even if you are, you might not share the same beliefs. So I think that’s a dangerous thing to do. I don’t think it’s very wise. I think you treat people the way they want to be treated. And I think Matt Bai said something similar in his podcast, which is “people make you feel the way they feel”.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:31:12] I disagree with that by the way, but please continue.

Robert Hossary: [00:31:15] You can, but I have firsthand experience at treating people the way I want to be treated has caused nothing but pain in my life.

The other thing is knowledge is power. I’ve heard this said, totally disagree with it. Because knowledge is not power. Knowledge is. Data is not power. The use of knowledge is power. And if you want to disagree with that, then you take a Google analytics course and see how much data is available to you from a website. And then tell me, you’re all powerful because you won’t know what the hell’s going on. You have to actually learn and use this data.

So knowledge is not power. Use of knowledge is power.

Duff Watkins: [00:31:59] I interviewed Don Pepper. A guy who’s in the marketing hall of fame and he said something about bank favors. Now he spoke about it at some length. I kind of take umbrage with that. I don’t like people who bank favors. I don’t like people who keep score and who keep accounting of favours.

 I think it’s a Zen story where the rich guy goes to the Zen guru teacher and he gets a big bag of gold. And he stands there and the Zen masters looks up and says, yes, what is it? And he says, well, there’s, that’s a bag of  gold for you. And the Zen master says “yes and”? He said, well, you know, it’s a lot of money. People would have to work years to earn that much. And the Zen master says, so you want to be thanked, is that it? And the rich guy said, well, yes it’s kind of customary. And the zen master says, I thought the giver of the gift was the one who felt the gratitude. When you’re doing favors for people, why are you doing it?

Because you want to accrue some sort of positive balance? Or it’s because you want to help a person? Or are you doing it because it’s the right thing for you to do or the right thing to do? Or are you doing it for some subterfuge, engaging in some subterfuge for some future payoff? And so I kind of take umbrage with, I don’t think Don meant that exactly, but it’s that phrase, the grated on me, I suppose, no need to bank favors, just do the favor or don’t. You know, it really is that simple. At least it is for me,

Jeffery Wang: [00:33:33] I think Duff is on the right track there in that the act of giving itself is what gives you ultimately that fulfillment, because that’s what you derive that meaning from the fact that you’ve made someone’s life better. Gives you that sense of fulfillment and purpose, and that is what will bring you ultimate joy. It’s not in the return, it’s not in getting something back.

But for me, the lesson that really, I still struggle with is “project certainty”. And again, it might mean that I just have a real issue with people not telling the whole truth.

Now I would say that in the context of this pandemic that we’re currently in, if people had just shared the damn information that we needed to know, we can make our own decisions. This idea that people are too dumb to make decisions for themselves if we give them all the information, I just it’s just does not sit well with me.

Especially at the start of a pandemic. There were very important pieces of information, which was suppressed. Um, that could have altered the entire course of how it played out.  And potentially I believe the vaccine hesitancy is a result of the loss of credibility, because of white lies that the authorities have told, for example, towards how effective the mask is.

And so it’s costing us. In terms of our response now, because they weren’t able to give us the full picture at the beginning.  I’m just really uncomfortable with the idea that people can’t be told the full truth or be told the full information, because what that’s telling us is that either we’re incapable as people or that you will make the wrong decision with that information.

 And unfortunately I think that is something that will breed authoritarianism. If we don’t trust people with information, then we’re ultimately doomed to repeat that disaster of an authoritarian regime.

Robert Hossary: [00:35:22] I can’t disagree with you, Jeff, but I will say that I have firsthand experience of being very transparent and it going awry with employees.

No, not to say that that experience has made me, become more authoritarian or not, not continue to be transparent, but I see it from the other side as well.

I have no opinion one way or another. I tend to lean towards just be transparent. Don’t know though.

Everything that we’ve heard today, everything on this episode is pretty clear.

That wisdom is something different to every one of us, hence why we have an array of hosts. Hence why we have an array of guests. To bring you all facets of wisdom, from one corner of the globe to the other, into your ear buds. So you can decide for yourself. What works for you? What stupid tax has been paid for you? What doesn’t work and you can ignore that.

Jeffery Wang: [00:36:35] That’s beautiful. Thanks for that, Rob. And on that note, this is why we’re having this discussion. Now to our listeners. If you have somebody that you’d like to hear from. Please tell us who that is. If you’re a questions that you’d like to be answered, let us know what sort of wisdom you want to hear.

Please email us on podcast@10lessonslearned.com that’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com.

Robert Hossary: [00:36:57] Also hit that like, leave us a comment and hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss another episode.

Duff Watkins: [00:37:03] This is the only podcast on the internet that brings you wisdom lesson by lesson.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:37:09] All over the world, all over the world. Never underestimates that we are on different continents at talking to people around us, but also across borders. So no the limit and, you know, to use Socrates, we are all citizens of the world.

Jeffery Wang: [00:37:25] I love that.

You’ve been listening to the international podcast of “10 lessons it took me 50 years to learn” produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum.

PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcasts, networking events, et cetera. For more information, please visit https://professionaldevelopmentforum.org/ Oh, and did I mention it’s all free? 

For more information about our podcast series, please visits https://10lessonslearned.com/ . Thank you for listening and stay safe, everyone.

Wisdom

Special Episode – What is Wisdom?

In this special episode the four of us, Jeffery Wang, Siebe Van Der Zee, Dr. Duff Watkins, and Robert Hossary discuss the deep topic of wisdom. We ask the question “What is wisdom?” and try to answer that from the lessons learned from our guests and from our own experiences. We have been asking this question of ourselves since we began. So we thought that we would share this discussion with our audience. Let us know your thoughts on what you think wisdom is.

About Our Hosts

Dr Duff Watkins

Dispensing sound career advice for 25+ years. Duff is a former group psychotherapist who’s run an executive search firm for many years. He’s past President of the Yale Club in Australia, a long-time Governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. He hosted the international podcast “How Business Really Works” and is a founder of this podcast, 10 Lessons It Took Me 50 Years to Learn

Siebe Van Der Zee

Siebe is President of Vanderzee & Associates, Executive Search & Coaching. He has served as an international management consultant for over 25 years. For 28 years, Siebe has served as Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Arizona. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management and he is a current member of the International Leadership Council at GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council).

Jeffery Wang

Jeffery is the founder of Professional Development Forum, an organisation dedicated to help young professionals find fulfilment in the modern Australian workplace for more than 13 years. Since its inception, the forum has hosted multitudes of successful, remarkable, and inspiring leaders. Through this journey, Jeffery developed a passion for empowering culturally diverse talent and unlocking their leadership potential. Jeffery is a passionate advocate of genuine diversity, servant leadership and mentorship and engages actively both as a mentor and mentee. Jeffery has almost 20 years of experience working as a sales and strategy professional in the IT Industry looking after enterprise and government customers. He has lived in Taiwan and New Zealand before migrating to Sydney where he currently lives with his wife and two boys.

Robert Hossary

Robert has been involved in international business for the past two decades. Since 2011 – 2018, Robert was the General Manager for the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia (AmCham) and helped advise many Australian and US companies about their international expansion requirements. Prior to that, Robert was Regional Vice President for the Americas for a technology manufacturer. He has also worked in Taiwan with responsibility for Asia Pacific and the Middle East. With a background in Technology, Transport, Fashion and Healthcare, Robert has a wealth of experience to share.

Ten Lessons – What is Wisdom

Jeffery Wang: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn – wisdom for the next generation. This is a special episode where the four hosts of this show,. Dr. Duff Watkins, Siebe Vanderzee, Robert Hossary and me – Jeffery Wang.

We want to explore the age old question. What is wisdom. So Dr. Duff Watkins is our resident former psychotherapist who also doubles as a executive search consultant, currently holidaying in Brazil.

Duff Watkins: [00:00:29] I’m not on a holiday I’m stranded in Brazil! I can’t go home!

Jeffery Wang: [00:00:34] Stranded in Brazil. Okay. And, uh, we have Siebe Vanderzee, who is an executive search guru, our Dutchmen in the desert who currently has an NBA team in the Western conference finals, the Phoenix suns, one of my favorites. And Robert Hossary our producer with the radio voice and a wicked sense of humor and myself, Jeffrey Wang, I’m the founder of the Professional Development Forum.

Now you think that when we embarked upon this podcast, we’ve come to an agreement as to what constitute wisdom. But, uh, we shoot from the hip and plow straight into it only coming to realize that we each have a slightly different idea as to what wisdom is.

Now I believe that different perspectives each of us bring to this podcast, brings it the unique richness that it has. And I, for one have learned so much from my other esteemed co-hosts. Now, today, I want to delve deeper into this concept of wisdom. What constitute wisdom and how do we find it?

According to the dictionary definition of wisdom in Wikipedia, as you go to of all places, wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding common sense and insight.

Charles Spurgeon define wisdom as the right use of knowledge.  And, um, this one, I really liked the ability to foresee the consequences of your action. In other words, wisdoms allows you to better grapple with the world. And this one I like as well, uh, Meacham in their study says, uh, wisdom is a capacity to have the full knowledge of something, to know the consequences, both positive and negative of all the available courses of action and to yield or take the options with the most advantage either for present or future implication.

Duff Watkins: [00:02:15] I think he’s wrong.

Jeffery Wang: [00:02:17] You think he’s wrong? Okay.

Duff Watkins: [00:02:19] I think he’s wrong.

Jeffery Wang: [00:02:20] the reason I read you all that is just so that I can go around and see what your take on what wisdom actually is now.

Duff Watkins: [00:02:27] We’ve been debating. What is wisdom ever since we started this podcasts, we have four principles here, so we have four different views, but we’re not the only ones. I mean, there is actually a substantial body of research dedicated to,defining wisdom, which I didn’t know.

One of our upcoming guests on the show, speaking of psychiatrist, he is a psychiatrist, Dr. Dilip Jest, who wrote a book, it’s a very recent book called “Wiser” and as a psychiatrist he studying what is wisdom? And can you get it? The answer is yes. And can you get it faster? Again the answer is yes. And this whole book is dedicated to that, but he puts down a few criteria about what wisdom is.

So let me, let me share with you some of the things that he came up with it’s having, well, let me tell you what wisdom is not. Let’s start with that. It’s not intelligence. It’s not, um, being smart. That’s not enough. It’s not being well-educated certainly isn’t being old. You can be old and be very, very unwise question is can you be young and wise?

No, you cannot be. You need age, you need this experience that comes with age to be wise. Um, I’ll just stop there. Does that ring a bell with any of you guys?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:03:42] Well, one of the, one of the items that I was thinking off when it comes to wisdom, Duff, is wisdom resist the attempts of our intellect to define it.

 I thought that was an interesting start to this conversation because if we think we can define wisdom, um, maybe not.

Jeffery Wang: [00:04:04] Are you saying that the attempt to define wisdom is folly?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:04:07] No, it’s just that it’s. Wisdom is evolving, it depends on the situation. It could be based on cultural differences. I don’t think there is an ultimate definition of wisdom because it evolves and it can change over time.

There is something about it that we all have, human beings, a need to understand things better and to have a purpose in life. And to a certain extent, I think wisdom is, is, uh, like a fulfillment of nourishing our inner longing for deeper meaning and purpose. How was that for the conversation?

Robert Hossary: [00:04:50] That’s pretty good. Siebe. I’m impressed with that. Um, I don’t really have anything to add. If you want my take, wisdom is nothing without compassion, I suppose the spirituality that goes with the individual that wants to do what we’re doing – share it.

What is the point of wisdom? That’s what I look at. What is the point of wisdom? If not to share. As Andrew Tyndale said, um, not to pay the stupid tax for the next generation.

Jeffery Wang: [00:05:25] You touched on a very good point there. Rob and also there’s a little bit to unpack there. So what I like what Siebe said, and that calls into the age old question, whether wisdom is universal. So are there, you know, being an international podcast, you realize that this thing could cover a whole swath of population that lives in very, very different realities. If it lives in very different cultures, completely different life experiences, but is wisdom shared across these different life experiences? Are there a universal truths that we can speak of?

Duff Watkins: [00:05:57] Yeah, definitely because you know it, when you see it and then I can give you some American examples.

So like Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, these are considered wise people in the America. But to use references with this, Rob will be familiar. Obi wan Kenobi, Gandalf, the grey people in his world.

Robert Hossary: [00:06:16] Yeah. But both Obiwan and Gandalf were not wise in their youth.

Duff Watkins: [00:06:21] Didn’t say they were, but I just said there wise people and you recognize hem, it’s the same with Yoda.

I mean, you know, these are wise beings and when you see them, you recognize, okay. So how do you recognize it? What is the basis by which you recognize wisdom?

Robert Hossary: [00:06:35] That’s a good point. Um, in traditional Western society, I suppose in traditional society, both Western and Eastern, uh, it is age, but we’ve just said that. You can be old and not wise.

And we all know very old unwise people, but, uh, you Duff said that you can’t be wise and young, but if wisdom is experience and you’re young and you absorbed that experience, do you absorb that wisdom as well?

Duff Watkins: [00:07:11] No, it’s not just experience. Experience as a necessary ingredient. Let me tell you some of the ingredients I came up with from research.

Okay. To be wise, you’d have to have rich factual knowledge. You got to know stuff, right. And you also have to have, you have to have no the procedural knowledge, how to get things done, how to deal with life. So it can’t just be something that, you know, it’s gotta be something that you put into action. Then there’s also, you have to have some sort of an understanding of life’s context.

Siebe was talking about culture and things like that. And you’re right. It’s wise in a certain context, you have to understand the context in which things are occurring. Acknowledging that people have different values and different priorities than you is also part of wisdom, acknowledging that people are different.

And finally understanding that knowing the limits of your own knowledge is a big part of wisdom, knowing that you don’t know at all, how was that for a basis of wisdom?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:08:12] I’m not sure if I completely agreed that it is an age limit that suddenly you have to reach in order to be wise or to have that wisdom.

I think some individuals learn very important lessons at a very young age, and there are perhaps a lot of people at more senior age. Where you can doubt the level of wisdom that they have gained and outgrew meat. I don’t mean it in a disrespectful way, but it’s not by definition, age. Um, one of the things I I read about in preparation is wisdom is to store of knowledge that a society or culture has collected over a long period of time.

And I asked myself the question. First of all, what is the definition of universal?  Universal wisdom, uh, applicable in all cases perhaps. And I think seeking wisdom is universal. I think most people are looking for wisdom over time. Wisdom itself, as we discussed a little bit ago can evolve. And the substance of what wisdom is can evolve.

If you look at science, what we have learned about our planet, where in the past it was well, uh, perhaps based on religion or, or other, uh, thought processes. Now we are learning more. We still don’t know everything, but we, we learned a lot of factual data and we as a society decide that’s the wisdom to base our thinking on. Not sure if this fits with what you just mentioned Duff, but I find it difficult to put a timeline on it. It’s really that individual and his or her experience.

Jeffery Wang: [00:10:12] Well, the problem is that  we see the world through our own individual lens. Very few of us have been in other people’s bodies, if any, at all. And so how do you know that what you deem to be wisdom? What your life experiences and what’s worked for you. How do you know that that’s definitely going to work for somebody else, you know, case in point, you know, somebody with a different appearance might experience the world a little bit differently. And so that, you know why these considered as conventional wisdom for you may not work for somebody else.

Are there things which are universal to all human beings?  Do we all, seek the same things? Now I know we certainly want different things. That’s why we have an economy and we’re blessed with different gifts and, and all that people  can trade with each other. Uh, and certain people want certain things more than each other. Some people want money, some people want fame, some people want family, some people want fulfillment. Is there something that’s universal to us all? That is a, a piece of wisdom that ultimately applies to us all?

Now I don’t think we’ll ever be able to prove any of this because we’ll never know from somebody else’s perspective. But my belief is, that there is a universal set of wisdom that we as human beings all share. And there are certain things that I think will be truth that, that, that people will uncover as they go.

I think the ultimate goal, for me, used to be finding success, which may be the success in the conventional sense.  Where you’re trying to find more money, more status, more power, more of the traditional stuff.

But I think as, as I get older, I realize that we are, as human beings, we seek fulfillment. And fulfillment comes into more of a sense of meaning, knowing that  you have made a difference. Yeah. And I think this goes into what Rob was alluding to earlier in his point, that wisdom need to speak to something much deeper.

You know, it needs to speak to something more spiritual, something that constitute virtue. So the question here is what separates wisdom from, I suppose intelligence is that.

Intelligent people can make a lot of money, because they understand, they can observe the world, they understand how it operates. But wise people knows the difference between how to make money the right way so that you don’t leave a trail of destruction behind you. Now what do you, what do you say to that sort of concept?

Robert Hossary: [00:12:28] I hear you. There’s nothing that you, you said that I disagree with.

I’m very hesitant to hang success on wisdom. You can be really wise and not successful. Um,

Jeffery Wang: [00:12:42] Depends on how you define success though don’t you think?

Robert Hossary: [00:12:44] It depends on how you define success, uh, and, and that is as elusive as how you define wisdom. But what we do here on 10 lessons is we share lessons.  I think Siebe interviewed this guest, Steve Zylstra um, one of his lessons, which resounded, because we all get this, is “yes, dad was right.”

Now think about that. I mean, that is the nub of wisdom. That is, that is where wisdom starts in every family. Listen to your damn parents. Well, we’re not going to do that because we’re young and it brings me to the mechanics of wisdom. And you all might disagree with this, but go with me on this. So  it’s a level of, of competencies.

You start off with unconscious incompetence. You don’t know what you don’t know, conscious competence. You know what you don’t know. Oh, sorry. Conscious incompetence. You know what? You don’t know. Conscious competence, you know what you know, and unconscious competence, you don’t know what you know, and once you keep stepping through those, you to.

Developing evolving. And I believe that is where wisdom starts being formed. And that’s where you start learning and understanding as Duff said, or receivers had those processes that you need to adopt to get to the next level, to the point where they become innate, they become natural, but yeah. It’s the spirituality behind it, the virtual behind the person and that comes through self-awareness.

So I think there’s multiple conduits to get you to a state of wisdom.

Duff Watkins: [00:14:32] Well, history and science support you because the people that, whether you go back to the ancient, stoic philosophers, I mentioned George Washington, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton,

Robert Hossary: [00:14:43] And don’t forget Marcus Aurelius!

Duff Watkins: [00:14:45] I’m just about to say Marcus Aurelius.

Every single one of them practiced wisdom. This goes back to your point a point you made, Siebe, I’ve been thinking about, do most people want to be wise? Do most people care about being wise? I’m not so sure. I do know that you have to practice it. You have to pursue it. Rehearse it, implement it in your life.

Otherwise you’ll just be another dumb ass of which there are so many of course. It’s something that you really have to work at if you want to be wise. I guess that’s what I’m saying is no one becomes wise by accident. You really have to think about it and ponder it and consider the implications.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:15:27] I was looking at this a little bit earlier. Uh, intelligence is commonly known. Or commonly associated with knowing something, knowledge. Wisdom is not only knowledge, but it’s also understanding.

And in a way, if you have intelligence you can connect the dots over time. And then perhaps you create with that wisdom. There is a distinction between knowing and understanding and that’s what makes it interesting. Right? The other thought in this conversation is, wisdom as a virtue for good, for better, for improvement.

But what about smart people that use their knowledge, their understanding to do bad things, uh, criminals or

Robert Hossary: [00:16:17] Are they wise Siebe? 

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:16:19] That’s the question right? And I saw the term wisdom deprivation. So there is wisdom, but it’s used for a negative outcome as we would judge it.

Duff Watkins: [00:16:30] Well you’re right. I mean, we’ll use history, Napoleon, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Mao Tse Tung. Those are smart guys. I mean, you might not like it, but they were smart guys. Do we consider them wise? No, we don’t, because wisdom is intensely moral and its basis, in its essence and intensely moral in the sense there is a code that wise people live by. There and it’s maybe they construct it or maybe they find it or share it. I don’t know, but they try to live to a standard of some sort and unwise people don’t. Certainly the bad people were talking about don’t.

Robert Hossary: [00:17:05] That is something I can get fully behind. Duff. Not to plug what we’re doing, but we’re doing this because morally we want to leave a better world. We’re living proof of the point you’ve just made, that with wisdom. It has to be rooted in morality.

Jeffery Wang: [00:17:23] I could not agree more with that comment. And indeed, that is the fundamental motivation for us doing this. The reason why we pursue wisdom is because we’re thirsty for meaning, we’re thirsty for doing something that is right.

And the difference between an intelligent person and a wise person, I think it’s exactly that. The intelligent person can certainly grapple with the world to get the outcomes that they want, but a wise person gets the outcome that it should be, rather than just to their own desires. The pursuit for wisdom at the same time, is a pursuit for what’s ultimately right. Ultimately what’s moral.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:18:01] Well, I just want to add to the mix here, because we were using names of philosophers. Socrates is of course, one of them talked about virtue is knowledge.

All living things, aim for their perceived good. And therefore, if anyone does not know, what is good, he cannot do what is good.  If someone knows what is good, he will do what is good because he will aim for what is good. This text came apparently from Socrates. 400 Before Christ. So I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it seems to fit with what we’re discussing here.

Jeffery Wang: [00:18:41] So Socrates, I’m glad you brought up Socrates because he was the wisest man in Athens because he knew the limitations or what he didn’t know. He asks questions all the time. He challenged the basis of the assumptions that the men of his time had, and for that he drove everyone mad.

But you touched on a very interesting concept that I want to unpack a little bit, because I believe the prerequisite to gaining wisdom is the humility to know the limitations of what you know, or what you hold to be true. And the humility to except that what you might think you know, and this is why we ask that lesson, “what have you unlearned that you’ve always held to be true”?  In every episode.

For a person to be wise, I believe the prerequisite is that you have the humility and the openness to be able to see alternative perspectives, facts, alternative opinions to be able to better understand the world and create a different model to see that. So how important is humility and can a person achieve wisdom without humility?

Robert Hossary: [00:19:44] Yeah, I think, uh, I totally disagree with the word humility.

There’s no such thing as humility. Nobody is humble. It’s a conscious decision of, I better act this way so that people think that I’m like this. Self-awareness is to me anyway, the real humility. To be self-aware enough to know what you don’t know, to be self-aware enough to know that you have been biased in a thought process or in a way you’ve treated someone and fix that.

That to me is what humility is. But for most people, humility is “oh well, I’d better not big note myself”. And I think that’s false. That is absolute false.

Duff Watkins: [00:20:26] I don’t think that’s humility, but can I just say so much cynicism from one so young Rob is very disconcerting to somebody like me. Right?

Robert Hossary: [00:20:34] My hair is as grey as yours yeah,

Duff Watkins: [00:20:39] well, I think humility does exist, but yeah, I think if you don’t have, developed or achieved or acquired humility, somehow, some sort of openness, openness to being corrected. Then you got no hope of being wise, because life just comes at you and correct you with so much ongoing corrective feedback that if you’re resisting it, you know,

Robert Hossary: [00:21:03] But Duff wouldn’t you agree? Wouldn’t you agree Duff that self-awareness is the most important part of all of this, because if you’re not self-aware how the hell are you going to know that you’re wrong? Or how are you going to accept any of the new information coming?

Duff Watkins: [00:21:20] Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. I’m not disagreeing. Self-awareness, to me self-acceptance is where I like to start with people, but that’s part of self-awareness too. Understanding what your biases, your prejudices, your dislikes, your rational, your non rational aspects. I’m just accepting them. And just starting there with that, then you can start the corrective action, if you’re so inclined. Which, you know, maybe people are not.

Jeffery Wang: [00:21:44] I’d like to ask all of you. Is there a lesson that you’ve heard so far from one of our speakers that really, really resonated with you personally. Now, my guess is it’s going to be something that touched on a moral value that you hold very deeply yourself.

Duff Watkins: [00:22:01] There’s a lot of them, you know, one that just came to mind though, when I was talking to Dr. Robert Lustig, one of his points of wisdom was “institutions don’t love you back”. Now. I knew that already. I mean, I’d had my own personal experience, but, you know, it’s when you find that out for the first time that employer, that university, that hospital, that, that, that organization, which you’ve developed and invest is so much.

That you care about, they don’t care for you. They don’t love you back because it’s an institution. When you realize that, that’s a big moment in a person’s life. And when he said that it, that, that cast me back years ago to when I learned the lesson, the hard way, that institutions don’t love you back. To me, it’s an existential milestone, a maturation.

When you realize that, and more importantly, when you stop expecting institutions to love you back,

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:22:56] I wanna also say at this moment we have had some pretty impressive guests. The one that stands out was from Jacob Butler, native American artists here in the United States. And he talked about the greatest change I can affect is my own. And his story indeed was very powerful. He was as a young man, he was angry. He didn’t like people. He was, you know, rightly or wrongly, he was upset. And he came to the realization that’s not the way to go through life. And that lesson is something that perhaps every person, I don’t know, but many people go through, that you’re on a certain track and we always think we are doing the right thing. We’re saying the right things where we’re doing the right things and you come to a point that. Oops. Maybe that’s not the right approach. Maybe I should have done it differently or, from here on I’m going to approach things differently. I thought that was one of the lessons that I really liked.

Robert Hossary: [00:24:01] Well, I will take up the whole conversation. I’ve got two. Look, what struck me and made me look inside to see what have I done? How have I been challenged by this? One was Diana White with listened for empathy and comprehension. As a sales professional, I listen for sales clues so I can answer the client and sell the next thing.

That was how I, I got trained, but to listen for comprehension, made me stop and think about how I communicate with people. That is good, because if I can understand what you’re saying to me, if I can empathize with your point of view, then the world would be a little better. I might not agree with you, but I’ll be able to see it from your perspective.

I’m listening to you to listen to you. Not to respond, not to find a solution. So I really liked that. And the other one is pretty self-explanatory from a Guillaume Lucci, which is “leave the money, take the opportunity”. I’ve done that several times in my career and when I did that, when I left the money and took the opportunity, I started collecting adventures. It was wonderful. So I find those two lessons really insightful as far as developing my self-awareness and understanding of.

Jeffery Wang: [00:25:38] Well, for me, this is a lesson that a believe it or not, I’ve only realized in the last couple of years, and that is “fill your heart with gratitude”.

For the longest time. I never understood why people pray before a meal. I never understood why we thank people for things that are always there. You know, the electricity is always there and, you know, things that you already have. Why are you thankful for them?

What I didn’t realize was that having gratitude changes the way you see the world. And it honestly, indeed is the key to happiness, because you could have a lot of things. And when you don’t feel gratitude for having it,  it’s almost like you don’t have it. And it’s such a psychological change in my mind, once I realized the power of having gratitude in, in the quality of my life and the quality of how I see everything around me. I realized now that I’m so thankful for having such great people in my life. Whereas if I had met you five years ago, Duff, I’d probably would have taken you for granted.

Robert Hossary: [00:26:38] We still do take him for granted.

Duff Watkins: [00:26:40] A large deposit in a Swiss bank account in my name would go a long way for expressing gratitude.

What you just hit, this is important, Dr. Jeste, in his book about wisdom. He says, you want to get wise? Okay. Here’s what you do. You practice two things. One, gratitude, just what you’re saying. And the other is compassion and that includes self compassion. But you got to practice them, gratitude and compassion. And the compassion towards others, but also towards yourself. And you start doing that and you’ll get wise fast.

Robert Hossary: [00:27:13] Yep.

Jeffery Wang: [00:27:14] And here is the bonus. You also live a much better life. Your quality of life improve. You’ll feel happy, you’ll be fulfilled.

Unfortunately I think what I’m seeing a lot in the world right now is this victimhood mentality.

There’s this culture of people feeling like they are oppressed feeling like they’re a disadvantaged. When in reality, they probably lived a better life than anyone before. We’ve got these things in our hands now, the richest person on earth in the turn of the century, Rockefeller, did not have access to a streaming service to give them all the movies in the world.

It could be argued that we have a better quality of life than pretty much the richest person in the 19th century, and yet we don’t have that sense of gratitude to understand exactly where we are today. And I think that’s rather depressing. That’s my lesson.

Um, and unsurprisingly it’s from Andrew Tyndale, who I’ve always regarded as a great mentor of mine, who ultimately changed a lot of how I see the world today. 

On the flip side. Is there a lesson that you’ve heard so far that  you either disagree with it in terms of wisdom because you might not have experienced it in your life, or that you don’t agree that it constitutes wisdom.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:28:24] I’m gonna combine that lesson that I didn’t mention in the first round, combined with a lesson that perhaps I disagree with. And I say it is of course, with the greatest respect for the guests. It’s more of combination.

Brad Casper talked about leadership is not a title. One can lead from any position on the org chart or within any organization. I liked that. I also heard the lesson, from Alan Haseldon who I really enjoyed. His first lesson learned was you need an org chart, show people where they are and what their responsibilities are. And then subsequent conversation had to do with a matrix organization.

That was kind of like ridiculous. The lesson that was added to that by Alan was identify bad actors and weed them out. I like disruption. I like indeed, individuals in organizations that don’t fit the format, that go against it, but have something to contribute. And I think that is extremely important.

So if I’m looking for a lesson that perhaps I disagree with, if I understand it correctly, what was mentioned, then I would say yes. Forget the org chart. That’s not what it’s all about and also identify bad actors and weed them out. That’s a horrible way to work in an organization to look for bad actors and weed them out, maybe the boss is the bad actor, and the boss should be weeded out.

That’s just my point. Again, looking as lessons that perhaps I disagree with. 

Robert Hossary: [00:30:09] I not disagreeing with you by the way. But it’s a really, really big topic. And sometimes the boss is the bad actor, but we won’t go down that, that road, we’ll have that conversation another time look,

I don’t know if anybody’s ever said this, but they’ve alluded to it. Some of our guests have alluded to these two points and I want to bring them up. The first is treat other people the way you want to be treated. Now we’ve been talking about cultural awareness in this show on this show for, since we started. You can’t treat other people the way you want to be treated, unless you’re from exactly the same cultural background. And even if you are, you might not share the same beliefs. So I think that’s a dangerous thing to do. I don’t think it’s very wise. I think you treat people the way they want to be treated. And I think Matt Bai said something similar in his podcast, which is “people make you feel the way they feel”.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:31:12] I disagree with that by the way, but please continue.

Robert Hossary: [00:31:15] You can, but I have firsthand experience at treating people the way I want to be treated has caused nothing but pain in my life.

The other thing is knowledge is power. I’ve heard this said, totally disagree with it. Because knowledge is not power. Knowledge is. Data is not power. The use of knowledge is power. And if you want to disagree with that, then you take a Google analytics course and see how much data is available to you from a website. And then tell me, you’re all powerful because you won’t know what the hell’s going on. You have to actually learn and use this data.

So knowledge is not power. Use of knowledge is power.

Duff Watkins: [00:31:59] I interviewed Don Pepper. A guy who’s in the marketing hall of fame and he said something about bank favors. Now he spoke about it at some length. I kind of take umbrage with that. I don’t like people who bank favors. I don’t like people who keep score and who keep accounting of favours.

 I think it’s a Zen story where the rich guy goes to the Zen guru teacher and he gets a big bag of gold. And he stands there and the Zen masters looks up and says, yes, what is it? And he says, well, there’s, that’s a bag of  gold for you. And the Zen master says “yes and”? He said, well, you know, it’s a lot of money. People would have to work years to earn that much. And the Zen master says, so you want to be thanked, is that it? And the rich guy said, well, yes it’s kind of customary. And the zen master says, I thought the giver of the gift was the one who felt the gratitude. When you’re doing favors for people, why are you doing it?

Because you want to accrue some sort of positive balance? Or it’s because you want to help a person? Or are you doing it because it’s the right thing for you to do or the right thing to do? Or are you doing it for some subterfuge, engaging in some subterfuge for some future payoff? And so I kind of take umbrage with, I don’t think Don meant that exactly, but it’s that phrase, the grated on me, I suppose, no need to bank favors, just do the favor or don’t. You know, it really is that simple. At least it is for me,

Jeffery Wang: [00:33:33] I think Duff is on the right track there in that the act of giving itself is what gives you ultimately that fulfillment, because that’s what you derive that meaning from the fact that you’ve made someone’s life better. Gives you that sense of fulfillment and purpose, and that is what will bring you ultimate joy. It’s not in the return, it’s not in getting something back.

But for me, the lesson that really, I still struggle with is “project certainty”. And again, it might mean that I just have a real issue with people not telling the whole truth.

Now I would say that in the context of this pandemic that we’re currently in, if people had just shared the damn information that we needed to know, we can make our own decisions. This idea that people are too dumb to make decisions for themselves if we give them all the information, I just it’s just does not sit well with me.

Especially at the start of a pandemic. There were very important pieces of information, which was suppressed. Um, that could have altered the entire course of how it played out.  And potentially I believe the vaccine hesitancy is a result of the loss of credibility, because of white lies that the authorities have told, for example, towards how effective the mask is.

And so it’s costing us. In terms of our response now, because they weren’t able to give us the full picture at the beginning.  I’m just really uncomfortable with the idea that people can’t be told the full truth or be told the full information, because what that’s telling us is that either we’re incapable as people or that you will make the wrong decision with that information.

 And unfortunately I think that is something that will breed authoritarianism. If we don’t trust people with information, then we’re ultimately doomed to repeat that disaster of an authoritarian regime.

Robert Hossary: [00:35:22] I can’t disagree with you, Jeff, but I will say that I have firsthand experience of being very transparent and it going awry with employees.

No, not to say that that experience has made me, become more authoritarian or not, not continue to be transparent, but I see it from the other side as well.

I have no opinion one way or another. I tend to lean towards just be transparent. Don’t know though.

Everything that we’ve heard today, everything on this episode is pretty clear.

That wisdom is something different to every one of us, hence why we have an array of hosts. Hence why we have an array of guests. To bring you all facets of wisdom, from one corner of the globe to the other, into your ear buds. So you can decide for yourself. What works for you? What stupid tax has been paid for you? What doesn’t work and you can ignore that.

Jeffery Wang: [00:36:35] That’s beautiful. Thanks for that, Rob. And on that note, this is why we’re having this discussion. Now to our listeners. If you have somebody that you’d like to hear from. Please tell us who that is. If you’re a questions that you’d like to be answered, let us know what sort of wisdom you want to hear.

Please email us on podcast@10lessonslearned.com that’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com.

Robert Hossary: [00:36:57] Also hit that like, leave us a comment and hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss another episode.

Duff Watkins: [00:37:03] This is the only podcast on the internet that brings you wisdom lesson by lesson.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:37:09] All over the world, all over the world. Never underestimates that we are on different continents at talking to people around us, but also across borders. So no the limit and, you know, to use Socrates, we are all citizens of the world.

Jeffery Wang: [00:37:25] I love that.

You’ve been listening to the international podcast of “10 lessons it took me 50 years to learn” produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum.

PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcasts, networking events, et cetera. For more information, please visit https://professionaldevelopmentforum.org/ Oh, and did I mention it’s all free? 

For more information about our podcast series, please visits https://10lessonslearned.com/ . Thank you for listening and stay safe, everyone.

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