What Is Wisdom?…John Page Burton

Wisdom is a bi-product of our life experiences. One of the most common ways we gain wisdom is by experiencing the lessons inherent to what many of us perceive to be failure. Although many of us don’t learn from it the first time, we will eventually graduate from a life lesson if it is presented enough times. It is mainly through life lessons (some quite painful, others joyful) that we are able to gain and then share our wisdom with others. I was once told that the day we stop learning is the day we will take our final breath. Below are key characteristics of wisdom.


W- Willpower. Most of us have heard the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Translated, this statement means that we have made a conscious decision to “will” our way to success. I am a firm believer that the “I will” is a far better indicator of a person’s potential for success than their “IQ”. A person possessing a cultivated mind is able to effectively conjure up reference points (experiences from the past) that allow them to break through distractions, re-frame adversity and quickly clear the clutter from past programming.

I- Immersion. Wisdom is gained when we immerse ourselves in the process of success. It is during “this process” that we are able to gain the valuable knowledge and insight that ultimately leads to a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. The majority of our true wisdom is gained during that important stretch of time between setting a goal and reaching our desired result.

S- Standards. Life is a great teacher, offering a classroom designed to present each of us with a series of moral and ethical tests. Over time, our response to these random tests becomes the foundation for our character. All of us set the bar for ourselves and for those we spend our time with. As a direct result of life experiences and tests, we establish our value system as well as our code of conduct.

D- Discipline. Using wisdom as our guide, we can live our lives in a manner that is congruent with our beliefs and values. For example, a person who recognizes the importance of health and vitality will more than likely have an established exercise routine in conjunction with a food plan that supports their belief system. Our level of discipline in anything is always in direct proportion to the level of importance we assign it.

O-Objectivity. Wisdom grants us permission to view the world from a much more objective place. Our wealth of life experience teaches us that life is neither black or white, rather it is a composite of diverse colors. Our backgrounds, learned behavior, circumstances, challenges and beliefs routinely come into play. Wise people have learned to look at life through an objective lens while searching for a deeper meaning.

M- Maturity. When we first step into adulthood we are pretty “green”. It is through setbacks, disappointments and outright failure that we begin to collect valuable life lessons. As we mature, our outlook expands. We are familiar with what to expect in a variety of situations because “we have been there and done that”. Wisdom causes us to make fewer emotional decisions and we tend to direct our energy toward seeking solutions rather than dwelling on problems.

Today, there is an ongoing debate regarding the workplace value of “the over 50 crowd”. Falling into this category myself, I believe that our wisdom and maturity can add a tremendous amount of value to any organization. More millionaires are created after the age of 50 than in any other age group. The average age of a United States President (at inauguration) is 55. Some of our nations greatest inventions came from people that today would fall into “the over 50 crowd”. In short, there is no substitute for wisdom and wisdom can only be gained through experience.

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

4 thoughts on “What Is Wisdom?…John Page Burton

  1. “A person possessing a cultivated mind is able to effectively conjure up reference points (experiences from the past) that allow them to break through distractions, re-frame adversity and quickly clear the clutter from past programming.” Love it! I really enjoyed this article.


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