A Response to Chip’s Wisdom Principles & Practices.
Chip’s August 10th Wisdom Well post "My Wisdom Principles & Practices" caused me to reflect on my own perspective as someone who has spent many, many weeks at MEA Baja. With Chip’s permission, here’s my version (in italics) of “Chip’s Wisdom Principles & Practices 2.0”:
1. Life lessons are the raw material for future wisdom.
Practice: Review your life experiences weekly, including how they’ll serve you in the future.
Ron: Aren’t life lessons relevant today as well as the future? Wouldn’t “Life lessons are the raw material for wisdom” make more sense? Chip’s long-time practice of reviewing his week, distilling the lessons learned is a wisdom practice for us all to model. To emulate and implement this practice, I believe that Chip’s principles 6, 7, and 8 below are part of the “how”.
2. Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
Practice: Learn active listening and appreciative inquiry to be a “first-class noticer.”
Ron: This principle is already institutionalized within the MEA curriculum and community. One suggestion I have, based on the Practice, is to modify the principle to read “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens, questions, and notices”.
3. Wisdom is not taught, it’s shared.
Practice: Create a container for vulnerable, life-changing conversations.
Ron: This principle is also well-institutionalized within MEA. Observing Chip, it’s easy to see that “life-changing conversations” aren’t the only way to practice this principle. Chip shares his wisdom via his blog, his videos, his books, etc. in addition to his conversations. We can all learn from Chip as a role model.
4. Wisdom is as natural to our soul as is breathing to our body.
Practice: Move your operating system from your ego to your soul, from external to internal.
Ron: “Yes”…and, if it were easy, there wouldn’t be the need for a movement like MEA to exist.
5. Wisdom is a social good. It’s not the same as being smart or shrewd.
Practice: Invest your compassion into causes and people that deeply matter to you.
Ron: I’d like to delete the second sentence from this principle and focus on what wisdom is, not on what it isn’t. I also believe that “being smart or shrewd” are more about ego and, therefore, might be better communicated in Practice #4 above. Thus, Practice #4 might read something like: “Move your operating system from your ego to your soul, from external to internal. Being wise isn’t the same as being smart, shrewd, or any other way of being that’s driven by one’s ego.” I might also add compassion to the principle itself, so that it becomes “Wisdom is a social good; it’s compassionate”.
6. A wise person is naturally curious.
Practice: Become a “long life learner” who lives a life as deep as it is long.
Ron: In my view, this Principle plus #7 and #8 below are part of the “how” for Principle #1 (revised) Life Lessons are the raw material for wisdom. We’re all “naturally curious”, we were born this way. Part of being a “long life learner” is to rekindle and cultivate the natural curiosity that may have diminished with age and modern living. Practice #2 (revised) – listening, questioning, noticing – can be helpful in this regard.
7. You accumulate knowledge. You distill wisdom.
Practice: Learn how to discern and edit the essential from the distraction.
Ron: Again, this Principle and Practice speak to “how” life lessons become the “raw material for wisdom”. Here’s a small distinction: life EXPERIENCES are the raw material for life lessons AND Life Lessons are the raw material for wisdom. Undoubtedly, Chip’s reflections each week led to many lessons learned over the decades that have transpired. But the wisdom distilled from those lessons crystallized over time. In other words, we view those experiences and those lessons learned differently over time, if we are long life learners.
8. A wise person knows how to “connect the dots.”
Practice: Develop your “crystallized intelligence” to become a holistic thinker.
Ron: Adding to my comments on #6 and #7 above, connecting “the dots” is how wisdom is distilled. I don’t really “know” how to connect those dots. Rather, I trust that it can happen if I think holistically, listen, ask questions, notice, and am mindful of my thoughts.
9. A wise person makes everyone around them better.
Practice: Learn mentorship skills that help create “invisible productivity” on a team.
Ron: There is much that’s beyond our control, despite our best intentions. I would offer "A wise person seeks to influence benevolently".
10. Wisdom is intergenerational.
Practice: Make sure half your friends are at least 10 years older or younger than you.
Ron: Might there be a bigger principle here...something like “Wisdom has or seeks no age”? In other words, age doesn't matter; it's about being open, listening, learning, sharing, and growing by engaging with others.
11. Wisdom creates an alchemical wholeness.
Practice: Become a mixologist of your gravitas & levity, logical & lyrical, doing & being.
Ron: I like this; yin and yang, the “middle way”. See Principle #12 below.
12. A wise person focuses on the long term.
Practice: Learn how to become a good ancestor by embodying “I am what survives me.”
Ron: This might be a Practice under the previous Principle. I suggest that “A wise person integrates the past, present, and future into alchemical wholeness”.
13. Wisdom is dedicated to societal oneness.
Practice: Dedicate yourself to “generativity,” seeing all of nature as kin.
14. Wiser person, better human.
Practice: In an era of AI hysteria, bet on human wisdom which is calming and inspiring.
Ron Nakamoto is a 5-time SabSesh/ReFresh and 3-workshop MEA Baja attendee. Based near Asheville, NC, he travels extensively teaching his programs on Gratitude, “True Wealth”, and Collaboration.