The Most Effective Practice to Grow Your Wisdom.

October 9, 2023

The Most Effective Practice to Grow Your Wisdom.

May 29, 2023

I’ve written quite a bit about the value of creating a practice of spending 20-30 minutes each weekend sorting through your most significant lessons of the past week—personally and professionally—including how these lessons might enlighten you moving forward. I’ve been writing in my physical and, now, digital “Wisdom Books” for 34 years, and I’ve yet to find a more reliable method of metabolizing one’s experiences into wisdom.

Recently, a Wisdom Well subscriber sent me a message and asked if I could give an example of how I live this practice. So, I’ve outlined below how I used this practice based on last week’s lessons:

Step 1: I find a quiet place to set up where I won’t be distracted. Since I now use Google Docs rather than diaries, I have my laptop and a few notes from my week. Hint: One of the ways to make this an expeditious exercise is to keep some notes throughout the week when you feel you were gifted a lesson…even if it was painful. 

Step 2: I review my notes from the week and then ask myself, “What are some of my most difficult lessons this week?” or “What’s keeping me up at night?” I even have a digital spreadsheet of the top 5 things keeping me up each week. I typically close my eyes and recite the Serenity Prayer (“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”). Somehow, this prayer puts me in the right space of humility to do what’s next.

Step 3: I list my biggest lessons of the week. This might be 3-4 items or 8-10. As you’ll see below, a lesson can be very personal—as in, no one else saw it—or it can be quite public. It can also be a first-time experience of that lesson or a “geez, did I make that mistake again?” kind of lesson. 

Step 4: Once I’ve written down the list, I consider which has the most significant potential to glean wisdom from and how I could use that lesson moving forward. Once I’ve written that down, I’m done.

So, now that you know my process, let me share last week's recap. I had seven items in my notes, but I’ll only share four with you now. At the risk of being too transparent, here they are (keep in mind that there are all kinds of positives I could point to from last week, but these are the painful lessons that I need to learn from):

  1. Lesson: I overscheduled myself again and limped into the weekend with little energy. This lack of energy is even more noticeable given that I’m now on hormone suppression medication.

    How It Serves Me Moving Forward:
    Schedule 90 minutes per day of thinking/creative/napping time into my calendar for the next few weeks.
  1. Lesson: Our MEA podcast advertising program didn’t generate as much business as we’d expected, so I’m not sure whether we should do it again, but when I was on that podcast as a guest, it proved to be a huge catalyst to the business. Why?

    How It Serves Me Moving Forward:
    We should have outlined our goals with the podcast producer in advance so we could tap into their wisdom as to best practices of what would work, keeping in mind that being a guest on a popular podcast drives much more business than advertising (as people “zone out” on the ads). In my life, how often do I assume I know the answer without consulting with people with a lot more experience in a topic or area?
  1. Lesson: I lost some sleep over cash flow because I wondered how I would finish the MEA Santa Fe Ranch development project capitalization, even though I believe we have a good plan. 

    How It Serves Me Moving Forward:
    Develop the capitalization plan, print it, and keep it with my laptop so it’s always accessible even when I don’t have a Wi-Fi connection. Have a Plan B and Plan C if some of the initial plan doesn’t materialize as expected. 
  1. Lesson: I have a close friend who feels like I’m not involved enough in her life, and this was very difficult for her last week when she was having a bad couple of days and felt awkward reaching out to me for help. 

How It Serves Me Moving Forward: I will put a standing one-hour call on our calendars once a month so she and I can catch up and schedule a meal or walk whenever we’re in the same place. I’m going to determine which non-work people I will dedicate more of my schedule to, and, more than I currently do, I will send sweet texts to friends telling them I’m thinking of them when I have some extra time.

I know this may seem overly-analytical, but this approach is how I became a successful boutique hotel company CEO in my twenties and an effective head of strategy for a tech company (Airbnb) when I had no experience in the tech industry. It’s also how I continuously learn to transform experiences into a more meaningful and happier life. Learning how to accelerate your wisdom—in whatever way works for you—is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

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 to 
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