WISDOM’S THINKING PROCESS
It used to be that land was the most valuable real estate one could possess, however, the knowledge revolution has made the great idea a highly valued commodity equal to striking oil or discovering a gold mine. Intellectual property can be the most expensive real estate on the planet. King Solomon, who was said to be the wisest man who ever lived and was way ahead of his time. Years beforeintellectual property was understood as a concept, Solomon taught in the book of Proverbs that knowledge, understanding and wisdom were worth more than gold or silver.
Amidst the teachings of Proverbs you will discover that the secret to the Wisdom of Solomon was his ability to tap into divine intelligence. Woven into the tapestry of Proverbs are three words that where foundational in Solomon’s thinking process: knowledge, understanding and wisdom. These where the key ingredients in Solomon’s pursuit of wisdom. As these three thinking skills become a habit, we will enjoy the wealth and freedom that wisdom brings. As you search for wisdom using these three guides, at some stage the light will turn on, the windows will clear, the sun will rise, and you will gain the Creator’s perspective. A still small voice, a hunch, a dominant thought, something someone says, instinct, or the voice of conscience all communicate an idea or message for those who have learned to listen. Solomon teaches us to “ tune our ears to wisdom”; something that made him the most creative, innovative leader of his day. Each of these three words will lead you to a different mode of thinking. Again, view thinking within this process as changing the gears of a car: the first gear being knowledge, the second understanding and the top gear, engaging wisdom.
The first step toward wisdom is the discipline of gathering all the facts. Knowledge in this process has to do with digging up all of the relevant facts in order to gain a clear picture! Solomon taught that, the wise accumulate, or store up knowledge.
“Any enterprise,” he said, “is built by wise planning and becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.” Weather it is processing an idea, dealing with a problem, evaluating a philosophy, or questioning a belief system, to discover wisdom we must fearlessly face the facts.
Like a good judge, this requires putting aside our personal prejudice, opinions and any initial negative emotions in order to view the facts objectively. We must remain open and ruthlessly honest as to where the facts might lead. It is going where the evidence leads, using the skills of a great scientist or crime scene investigator. It is searching out the facts, and laying out all of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle ready for assembly. If pieces of the jigsaw are missing this will result in an incomplete picture. In decision-making, missing facts give an incomplete picture and may mean the difference between success and failure.
Solomon taught that the key to the accurate accumulation of the facts was the art of listening. It has been said that the reason we have two ears and one mouth, is so that we can listen twice as much as we talk. A study of people from a variety of professional backgrounds showed that 70 percent of their waking hours was spent in communication. Of that time 9 percent was spent writing, 16 percent was absorbed in reading, 30 percent talking, and a huge 45 percent occupied in listening.
Although we spend a lot of time listening to oral communication at a purely informational level, researchers claim that 75 percent is ignored, misunderstood or quickly forgotten. Listening is not only the key to gaining knowledge, it is the skill needed to succeed in all four modes of thinking.
The art of listening is the art of asking the right questions, the hard questions. It is asking probing questions in order to uncover the truth of a matter. Questions that open up the door to a vast storehouse of valuable knowledge locked away inside of other people. Accessing this information and experience often costs little more than swallowing our pride and showing a bit of humility. We must also ask the tough questions of ourselves. Questions that dig down, in a constructive way, in order to peel back any layers of possible self-deception. Asking the kind of questions, which question the way that we have viewed or have done things in the past.
You don’t need a Harvard Degree in order to learn or exercise the art of listening; however, it does require characteristics such as patience, sensitivity, insight, honesty, courage, optimism, confidence, discernment and discipline.
Understanding is the process of learning how all of the facts fit together. It is the summing up of the facts or evidence in order to make our case. We may have gathered all of the component parts of a watch, but have no understanding as to how they fit together. It is one thing to have an accurate knowledge of all of the parts of the human cell and not understand how the system works as a whole. There is no easy road, to be a person of great understanding means a life long commitment to education and the gainingofa wide range of experience.
Solomon is blunt about those who are wise in their own eyes saying,”A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”
He also says, “The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” 2Again asking the tough questions is vital during this process of gaining understanding. Knowledge has to do with the observation of the facts. Understanding, the interpretation of the facts and how they fit together. Wisdom then, is the application of the facts. In a nutshell, knowledge asks “what?” Understanding asks ‘”how?” and “why?” while Wisdom asks “where?” and “when?”
Wisdom is the application of knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is the ability to make the right decision, in the right place, at the right time. A person of wisdom seeks out quality advice by questioning the experts and reading the books of great thinkers. Solomon teaches again and again throughout the book of Proverbs that, “there is victory in the multitude of counselors.”3 Applying this principle is the highest form of self-education, because a person unlike a book is interactive and emphasizes, with emotion, the critical success factors. Solomon points out that, “wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts up her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings”.4 Solomon was saying here that wisdom is accessible to all of those who have a listening ear and a teachable spirit.
This process and the key to wisdom in general are built on the foundation of accurate listening. How we hear and the filters we use to establish a clear picture is what keeps us from falling into the trap of self-deception or living a lie. The information being processed through our five senses is not always what it seems. Often laced with deception, our five senses can feed us an equally distorted picture of the truth. Listening carefully, honestly and with the help of our Creator we will find and travel the path of His design and success.