The renowned 19th century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, observed: “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
Businesses continue to face challenging times. In this uncertainty, some leaders have lost their way due to egregious moral and ethical missteps. Others have reached career dead ends due to their inability to see the big picture from a higher not-so-common perspective. Many of these leaders are undoubtedly intelligent. But they’re not wise.
Being of “two minds”
Our minds work on a lower and higher level. The lower level deals with the concrete – our immediate physical environment, information, facts and logic. Our lower mind supports us to be aware, conceptual and reflective.
Our lower mind is rational, analytical, opinionated, busy and often sceptical. It is bound by time and space. We use our lower mind to make sense of our complicated and emotional world. The lower mind is the stuff of business schools, “operations-focused” education and experiential learning.
“Wisdom is what’s left after we’ve run out of personal opinions.” – Cullen Hightower
The lower mind delivers reductionist thinking and mechanistic, conventional approaches to life. The main drawback of living in the lower mind is that it only reflects your internal map of reality. It is like being stuck in your own intellectual zip code, never moving beyond your nine-digit thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, expectations and world views.
Intelligent people are generally engaged with their lower mind and left-brain thinking. The lower mind focuses on one corner of the painting. Wisdom does not arise from this place.
The higher mind considers the abstract. It involves intuition, aspiration, heart, soul and spirit and connects with the Universal mind, with Universal truth, with beauty and with goodness. Our higher mind speaks in the language of ideas, ideals, symbols, principles and impulses. It is loving. It guides us to the truth.
The higher mind sees the threads woven between the mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological and social aspects of our life. The higher mind sees the entire painting – the place from which wisdom arises.
“Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.” – Henry Miller