People are born hungry. During the first few moments of life, a human infant is totally consumed by his appetite. First for air, and nourishment.
People stay hungry too. We're hungry all our life. But exactly what it takes to satisfy our hunger usually changes as a great deal. But the time we reach adulthood, some of us are hungry for wealth and power, some of us are hungry for truth, some people want everybody to love them.
There's a fundamental challenge with all these appetite: None of them can ever be permanently satisfied.
There's really only one kind of person whose actually comfortable, with the impossibility of satisfying his appetite. This is the person who want that mysterious commodity called wisdom. And wants it more than all the cars and computers in the world.
Wisdom like the learning capacity of the human brain is infinite. There will always be more to know, and there will be always more room in your brain for everything you learn.
Life is a paradise, really, if you're a person who genuinely wants wisdom.
We all want to be successful, but I've known some people who literally wanted all the money they could get. Not what the money could buy, but the money itself.
The acquisition of Wisdom in not a zero sum game. You don't have to give up something in order for me to have it. You can give me your wisdom, and now I'll have it, but you still have it too.
There's only sharing.
"Sir, you should write a book that would sum up all you've learned about the world, and about how to succeed in it."
"Well, I suppose I could do that, but it wouldn't really be much of a book. In fact, I could tell you everything I know in just 15 or 20 minutes. Everything I've come to understand over the course of a lifetime. But what good would it do ? These aren't things you can hear about from someone else, or read in a book. Until you discover them for yourself, they're just words, just puffs of air, or grabs of ink on a page. You've got to live in order to learn what I've learned. You've got to arrive at these truth the way you arrive at your destination after a long journey. With that same sense of fulfillment and joy.
Wisdom is not a thing you can buy. Or a course you can take in school. Or a degree you can earn.
Yet all the parent wants his children to attend good schools.
Wisdom is not something you can get from another person, yet you can gain some wisdom from everyone you meet. Wisdom is something a wise man always feels he needs more of. Yet the true source of wisdom lies no where but within ourselves.
I've seen people who have everything you can possibly want. Every object you can dream of. Everything you can drive down the street, or sail in the ocean, or fly through the air. But on the inside, where the real person lives, they were broke.
the Bible tells us that king Salomon was the wisest man in the whole world. But he was not only the wisest, he was also the richest man in the world.
the Bible tells us that when Salomon was just a young man, living in the court of King David his father, God told him he would grant him one wish.
He didn't wish for a kingdom, he didn't wish for great power, he didn't wish for good luxe or unlimited pleasures, or long life or love or fame or security. Salomon asked God to grant him wisdom.
The difference between you and me and Salomon, is not where or when we were born, or the privileges we have or don't. The difference isn't in our names or bank account. Or the position we hold in life. Salomon got wisdom by asking God for it. The rest of us must look around just for wisdom. And look for it in everything we read, and everything we do, and in everyone we meet. And most of it, we must look for it in ourselves.
Perhaps more than any other element of strong character, wisdom is a quality the we must earn, and learn on our own.
The wisest man in Ancient Greece, the greatest philosopher the world has ever known was a man named Socrates. In fact, Socrates made wisdom his profession. Philosopher means lover of wisdom in Ancient Greek. And because he didn't have another job, people were always asking Socrates: "So what do you do for a living?". He was definitely smart enough to figure out that he had to have an answer, so he made up his own job's title: Philosopher.
But when people asked Socrates what is wisdom, he always gave the same answer: I don't know. Socrates never claimed to know much of anything, except how to ask questions, and by asking questions, he would prove to other people that they didn't know what they thought they knew, or were certain of.
Unlike Salomon, Socrates didn't have great wealth. The wisest man in Greece was poor.
To those who really care about it, wisdom is its own reward.
In my work I've talked a lot about what conclusion you should draw if you're not wealthy by the time you're 50 or 60 years of age. How it's an indication of poor planning, or poor self-management.
But if you're 50 or 60 and you haven't really thought about what more there is, or who you are, and why you're here, and what your life means, well you just didn't provide for your old age. Don't worry about a financial planner, you need a personal wisdom consultant.
Part of wisdom is knowing what you lack, and looking for it, and asking for it. Another part of wisdom is knowing that there are no finals answers, and there are always more questions. There are always more things and people you don't know.
What for a retirement pack if you're isolated. I don't mean just physically alone, but from a real sense of connection with what come before, and what lies ahead. It's here that wisdom provide really real, very practical benefits.
It's wisdom that provides a sense of life's value, and assurance that all the efforts has been worthwhile.
There's no question that we must take care of our material needs, but a fulfilled life requires meaning.
Wisdom is the truth of experience. Everyone gets experience, but not everybody knows what do do with it.
Wisdom comes from seeing the world and the people in it. And from noticing patterns, and connection. And from using what other people let you see of themselves in order to understand your own self.
I knew a wise man once. A man I really come to admire. I wanted very badly to define the essence of his wisdom, to isolate exactly what was the source of his great insights. So I finally asked him: What is it that really makes you different from everyone else? And he said: What makes me different is that I can see that we're all the same.
Anybody can see the differences between people, wisdom is understanding how we're really alike.
Lincoln used to say things like that, and in my opinion, he's one of the most admirable individual in all history.
Lincoln was a man with a very strong sense of right or wrong.
Like Lincoln, Albert Einstein came from humble beginning. Not just financially, but the way he was looked upon by other people. When he was a young boy, Einstein was thought to be stupid, and he even flunked elementary mathematics. He was always a little distracted, asking questions, but not being able to put those questions into words. Even when he grew up and got a job in Swiss, nobody guessed that Einstein was still asking questions that would shake the whole world. After he published his theory of relativity which laid the foundations of the atomic age, Einstein didn't get a swirl head. He kept asking questions about who we are, and why we're here, and how's the universe is made. Even after he was able to find answers to some of the most profound scientific questions, Einstein still remained an essentially humble person. And he never suggested that the answers he found were the final ones.
People of wisdom are much more interested in questions than in answers. But foolish people are always coming back to conclusions. Like success wisdom is a process, not a destination.
After some success you may be tempted to say: "I finally got it all figured out once and for all", but usually, something comes along pretty quickly, to humble you.
If you reach the point in life where you feel you got all the answers, you've better start asking some different questions.
The fool is always ricking his intellectual destination, the wise man is always wondering how much further there is to go.
Ignorance is not bless, it's misery, it's poverty of the mind and spirit, and soon or later of the bank account.
Wisdom is wealth of the heart, mind and soul, and non like money, once you have it, no one and nothing can ever take it away from you.
Oscar Wilde: Responsibly is what we expect from somebody else.
Most people aren't as successful as they wish they were.
It's in your best interest to take responsibility for everything you do.
Many times, it's even best to accept responsibility for the mistake of others.
Bill Russel was a player who wanted to take responsibility for the success or failure of his team. He wanted the weight on his shoulders in a situation like this. No possibility for excuses, no possibility to blame anyone else if the game was lost, no second guessing.
Bill Russel wanted the ball in his own hands and nobody else. And like magic, even if he'd miss every pre-throw he ever shoot in his life before this, he knew, he was going to make this one. And that is exactly what happened.
That is what virtually always happen when a man accept responsibility eagerly and with confidence.
I've always felt that accepting responsibility is one of the highest form of human maturity. A willingness to be accountable. To put yourself on the line is really the defining characteristic of adulthood.
Anyone who has raised children knows how true this is. Just look at the baby during the first few years of life. Every gesture, every facial expression has one message for the baby's parent: I am totally dependent on you.
If you decide to be one of the few who embraces responsibility, you can lead, and you will deserve to lead.
Churchill said responsibility is the price of greatness.
Responsibility means first of all, that you accept the consequences of your actions.
Further than that, responsibility means you look to yourself as the source of everything that happens to you. It means that you assume command regardless of the hardship you may have undergone early in life, or the prejudice you may have encountered. Or the dozen of people who may have failed to understand you.
Regardless the presence of those negative influences in your life, the best thing you can do, the most empowering thing, the strongest thing, and ultimately the wisest thing, is to accept responsibility for your own destiny, plain and simple.
There's a role played by intention. Would the outcome of your actions what you intended it to be? And if it would not, should you sill accept responsibility for that outcome?
No matter what happens, excuses are always there waiting to be used.
If you refuse to rely on excuses, people are gonna know that too. And they'll admire you for it.
No matter if excuses are true or not.
People are so used with excuses, they don't buy them anymore.
(About Marcus Aurelius) His journal is a powerful example of everything that's involved in building character, and leadership.
The writing of this ancient emperor, and the other people from the same period, reflects the conscious choice to live according to certain standards of certain responsibility and character.
This kind of clear decision about how to build your inner self, is something that we rarely see today.
Most people want to be good, ethical and more moral and successful in every way. They want to fulfill their potential but they think it's something what will just happen itself.
They don't see that there should be a conscious ongoing acceptance of responsibility for what you do, and who you really are.
"I slept in dreams that life was beauty. I woke and saw that life was duty."
If you really want to be in control of your life, and if you want other people to depend on you, and look to you for leadership, you must wake up from the dreams that somebody else would handle the pressure.
Opening your eyes to reality. A successful people not only must accept, but eagerly desire to accept. It means making a conscious decision to grow up. So let go of the dependency needs of childhood and adolescence and re-create yourself as somebody other people can depend on.
How important humor is as the aspect of a strong character.
Here's the bad news: to a great extent, you can't learn to be humorous. And that alone makes humor different from every other trait we've discussed in this program.
There are many examples of people who learn to overcome fear, or even down right cowardess. And who went on to be courageous leaders. There are fools who becomes to be wise. And there are liars who turns into honest persons. There are rigids who learn flexibility. But I've personally never encountered a person who learn to be humorous. And if there were such a person, I'm sure I would have come across by now, because I've certainly encountered a great many humorous people.
Real humor is honest because real humor can't be faked. You can pretend to be serious, just like you can pretend to be intelligent, but you can't really pretend to be funny.
The more real laughter you can bring into your life, the better off you'll be. Kids are best source of knowledge about real laughter. They really put their whole self into it. We lose that to a large extent as we get older. And I'm not sure that loss can be completely avoided.
From free drawing, to drawing rectangles and triangles, with the right color, with the right size, they become less free. Their laughter changes too, there's more awareness in it.
British poet William: Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, and glory in the flower, we will grieve not, but rather find strength in what remains behind.
Kids really don't have a lot of responsibility, like bills that have to be paid by tomorrow, or presentation or phone calls that can make your palm sweat. It's those kind of responsibility that suppress real laughter as we get older.
If you handle a correct event, telling a joke, and really reinforce your image as a serious person, once the joke is out of the way, you can be as intense as you want for as long as you want, because all humor has been compressed into the joke, and now the joke is over and done with.
There's an important difference to be made between the leader who tells jokes, and a very different kind of people, who we'll call the funny guy.
In any case, the funny guy is someone who doesn't seem to understand that the role of jokes is to reinforce the seriousness of the rest of the interaction. He doesn't understand that a joke is really a kind of scapegoated form the center of the little ceremony for a moment, and then is banished once and for all. Now the funny guy is someone who keeps telling jokes, who keeps reintroducing humor into a situation from which everyone else has tried to banish it. Then he's just a clown.
Leaders intuitively understand the role of humor, and they apply it in the right amount, at the time time. They understand that, as the many other good things in life, too much of it is almost as bad as not at all.
After all, what's the point of talking about humor, if there's very little you can do towards strengthen your capacity for it? Well it may be true you can't increase the natural proportion of humor into your personality. But you still can learn to have a basically humorous approach to life, or perhaps playful would be a better word. The ability to do so is an extremely important indicator of strong character.
Just like the light can be seen as a particle or as a wave, depending on your intention, life can be either a comedy or a tragedy, and it's always in your power to determine how you want to see it.
Comedy as a progression from sadness to happiness. From a low point to a high point. From poverty to wealth.
Just like Dante's comedy which starts in hell and end in paradise, although there might be no humor in it.
People usually don't know there are two more volumes after Dante's Inferno. People prefer to focus on the frightening, painful part. And if you're not careful, you might find yourself doing the same thing in your own life. We live in a time that equals seriousness with intelligence, unhappiness with sensitivity, and victimization with moral authority.
In short, we have largely chosen that life is tragic rather than comic.
You participate in this, you are limiting your potential for success in the material sense and even more importantly, you are doing nothing for your character. Humor can be your best tool for distancing yourself from the negativity and pessimism that's so rampant today.
Shaw: Everything is funny, as long as it happens to someone else.
But the really strong person is able to laugh even when the joke's on him.