Smart Versus Wise

The definition of smart is "having or showing quick-witted intelligence.” There are many smart people that have never achieved a sustained level of success. On the other hand, wisdom is a common trait of anyone who has achieved a sustained level of success. The definition of wisdom is "the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement.”  The reason why wisdom is so impactful is that it is a well-rounded combination of not just knowledge which would make one appear smart, but also of necessary experience and good judgement. Here are a few thoughts on how to gain wisdom:

1) To gain the most wisdom, you have to be what Charlie Munger calls a "learning machine.”  This requires an intentional effort to apply yourself in each of the three areas of wisdom (experience, knowledge, and good judgement) with a balanced approach. You can't read books all day without applying experience, and vice versus.  

2) You have to understand and appreciate the correlation between knowledge and experience.  Knowledge is a great place to start to determine the types of experiences you want to acquire.  Then, once you have experienced something, it requires a certain amount of thought and reflection in order to understand the "what and why" of your experience and transfer it to learned knowledge that can be harnessed and used for the future. 

3) Good judgement is the by-product of building knowledge and experience. The more you build, the better your judgement will become.  

Charlie Munger has adopted an approach to business and life that he refers to as "Worldly Wisdom.” He believes that by using a range of different models from many different disciplines - psychology, history, mathematics, physics, philosophy, biology, and so on - a person can use the combined output of the syntheses to produce something that has more value than the sum of its parts. So, as you are deciding where to focus your efforts as a learning machine, go for well-rounded “Worldly Wisdom.” 


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