Becoming Wise

It’s a paradox. Nobody likes a know-it-all, but we find wise people very attractive.

What’s the difference? How can we thread that needle – cultivating and displaying true wisdom while avoiding arrogance?

Wisdom: A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Consider Context

There’s an old saying: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Wisdom relies not only on knowledge but also on experience. It’s based on a foundational understanding of how the world operates – an understanding that surpasses a basic grasp of the necessary facts. Very often, that insight is borne from walking the coals, facing adversity, and living to tell the tale.

A wise person makes decisions based on insight and good judgment, not on whims. When we meet someone like this, we intuitively feel that they have access to more foundational truths than we do.

As they say, experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is costly. It’s no wonder that we are attracted to people who seem to have paid that tuition and may be able to share what they’ve learned and spare us the trouble.

Wisdom vs. Arrogance

Generally, the wisest people are also the humblest. They understand their place as part of a whole. As ensemble musicians, they aren’t show-offs – not because they lack the skills, but because they recognize that demanding the spotlight damages the performance. They know when they are playing a leading role and when they are in a supporting role.

For example, a wise drummer understands that sometimes all that is required is to tap the edge of the snare. He may be a virtuosic player, but wisdom dictates that he does what is right for the piece, not what is most impressive. He knows that there are no small roles.

In financial matters, a wise person recognizes that money is merely a tool for living your best life. It’s helpful, but it isn’t the measuring stick for success. Much more important is the impact you have on the people around you.

Finding the Wise Ones

So how do we cultivate wisdom?

  • The fastest and easiest way to grow in wisdom is to invest in a guide or a mentor. Look for someone who has been there, done that, and has a boatload of t-shirts to show for the experience.
  • Read. The world is full of wisdom literature. From religious texts to modern masterpieces, there is no shortage of wisdom out there for the discovering. Some recommendations: John Acuff, Steven Pressfield, Michael Hyatt.
  • Practice discernment. Obviously, not all advice is created equal, and not everything you read is true. So how do you know what to trust? Look for people whose messages resonate with you – people you feel naturally attracted to. Remember, you can take what is useful from any message and leave the rest.

Becoming wise is a lifelong endeavor. It isn’t something you can knock out with a month in a practice room or library. But the good news is, as long as you view every experience as an opportunity to grow wisdom, you can never lose ground.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.