Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Regaining our lost wisdom: Art of wisely breaking the rules #leadership

When in need of inspiration, I often resort to watching a TedTalk, as this helps me to reinvigorate my soul and mind.

Last week in one of my moments of seeking for inspiration, I came across the passionate talk "Our loss of wisdom" by Barry Schwartz.

In his talk, Schwartz, shows us how we've lost our wisdom together with our sense of virtue, kindness, care and empathy.

The following day after watching Schwartz's TEDTalk, I witnessed what Schwartz referred to as "loss of wisdom, virtue, kindness, care and empathy", and Voltaire's words about common sense came to life:

Common sense is not so common

As I was living through my "loss of wisdom" experience, Schwartz's words kept ringing in my head:

  • "It takes lots of experience to learn to take care for people." 
  • "You do not need to be brilliant to be wise, but without wisdom, brilliance is not enough"
  • "Rules and procedures may be dumb, but they spare you from thinking" 
Schwartz is damn right: "The truth is that neither rules nor incentives are enough to do the job. Moral skill is chipped away by an over-reliance on rules that deprives us of the opportunity to improvise and learn from our improvisations. And moral will is undermined by an incessant appeal to incentives that destroy our desire to do the right thing. And without intending it, by appealing to rules and incentives, we are engaging in a war on wisdom."

In his talk, Schwartz quotes Aristotle: "Practical wisdom is the combination of moral will and moral skill." and says:
A wise person knows when and how to make the exception to every rule, as the janitors knew when to ignore the job duties in the service of other objectives. 
A wise person knows how to improvise, as Luke did when he re-washed the floor. Real-world problems are often ambiguous and ill-defined and the context is always changing. 
A wise person is like a jazz musician -- using the notes on the page, but dancing around them, inventing combinations that are appropriate for the situation and the people at hand.
A wise person knows how to use these moral skills in the service of the right aims. To serve other people, not to manipulate other people. 
And finally, perhaps most important, a wise person is made, not born. 
Wisdom depends on experience, and not just any experience. You need the time to get to know the people that you're serving. You need permission to be allowed to improvise, try new things, occasionally to fail and to learn from your failures. And you need to be mentored by wise teachers.
Thank you Mr Schwartz for showing us that we're only a step away to avoid commit the sin of losing our wisdom. So let's hope that we all regain our wisdom, become more virtuous, caring and empathetic.

And thank you for a passionate and thought-provoking talk!




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