How you learn and share your wisdom matters

My Dad was probably the most major influence in my life that inspired me on several aspects of life that has helped me develop my character. The numerous advices, inspirational stories, personal experiences about his follies that were willingly consumed along with my Moms delicious dishes that I merrily gobbled down during the family dinners and lunches nourished my  belly for sure, but it wasn’t until several years that I realized how his advices nourished my soul and developed my personality. Although, there were several advices that he used to dish out where often not followed by himself for reasons best known to him, for some strange reason, the value of those advices never diminished for me. Everything he advised, I took it to heart and did my best to follow regardless of him practicing what he preached. The reason was perhaps my understanding that no one is perfect and can do all the right things all the time. Everyone does their share of mistakes and blunders over time, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot learn from their successes, and mistakes. Some of the most profound lessons in life are often learned from other people’s mistakes.  Similarly, only those who have truly failed and struggled in their lives can realistically teach others on what not to do in their journey to success. I have come to believe that we can learn several things from almost everyone in our lives regardless of their age, social status, success, failure or they themselves practice what they preach or not. The process is largely based on our willingness to learn and be receptive without being judgemental of the source.

I am defeated, and know it, if I meet any human being from whom I find myself unable to learn anything. ~George Herbert Palmer

But the wisdom of learning is lot different from that of teaching. Like we often learn from people and their experiences even though they are not necessarily an authority on any particular subject matter, we often mistake ourselves to be one when we share our wisdom with others.  We get clouded by our good and noble intentions, our love and care for the individual and we proceed to impose our advices and wisdom on others in a rather stern and authoritative manner. And when the authority and the manner of how we disperse our wisdom are rejected the value of the wisdom is greatly diminished.  This often causes a great deal of frustration, disappointments and disputes in many of our lives, because the rejection of our advice and wisdom is often conceived as a direct disrespect of our good intentions and care for the individual and a direct blow to our ego. But in reality the rejection is not to what we say, but it is implied to the manner in which we share our thoughts, ideas and wisdom. This can be better understood if we reflect on how we ourselves react and choose learn from other people’s advice.

Authority is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts. When teachers depend on the coercive powers of law or technique, they have no authority at all. ~ Parker J. Palmer

The most important rule when offering advice is gaining the right to give advice. It is gaining the right and not the authority. The right to offer advice is given to you by the receiver and it is not a carte blanch status lasting a life time. The right to offer advice is often given to you only when you have earned it. The receiver has to either give you the permission to offer your point of view, express their dependence on you for guidance, value your opinion or place you at a respectable level in their minds. And these positions are earned by you by your behaviour, social respectability, your experience, and the manner in which you share your wisdom. As we are aware, no one likes to be told things, but everyone can be inspired. Advice is cheap and everyone can offer advice. But if you wish the receiver to follow your advice, you can only inspire them to take action. If you find yourself in a position where you have earned the right to offer your advice, you must also have the wisdom to know that what you share with them may or may not be followed by the receiver. Your advice is only sought to help develop their individual thought process in choosing a course of action. You can only take the horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink. But your wisdom can play a major role and help others only if you can inspire them by the manner you offer your advice. And this influences them to take action towards what they value as good advice.

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. ~Hannah Whitall Smith

We are merely the result of our experiences gained from interaction with others. We learn from them, get inspired from them, follow or lead. Likewise, we exert the same amount of influence in the world we live in daily. As we watch others, others watch us. But often we place a higher value of ourselves and our wisdom from what others do. This is one of the most common reasons for discontent which misaligns our behaviours from our intentions. We think we have the authority and influence over others without considering the possibility of others not having given us the right. Also, if an individual seeks our advice once on one single matter at a given time, we assume that we have earned the right to impose our advice on them on all matters all through their lives. Unless we are bound by a relationship that gives us the right to offer advice or teach them, we generally have to earn our place of value in their minds.  Many of us do not depend on our own parents’ wisdom all through our lives.  There comes a time when we form our own ideas and thinking, and the value of our parents’ wisdom that we mostly were depended on fades away over time. Similarly our wisdom and right to advice others does too.

Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself. ~Cicero

But the beauty about learning and sharing the wisdom acquired is how you use it yourself. Many a times we are very keen and eager to give advice to others, tell them where they are going wrong and what they need to do but seldom do we take the time to learn from our own wisdom. One of the tragic mistake of man is when they know what is the right thing to do and have the wisdom to do it, they fail to take action. Usually people seek advice only to validity their choices and thinking or to evaluate their already conceived choices of action by referring with other options. We all do the same. We seek advice on matters that we already know the answers for but need to evaluate our choice of actions by comparing with others opinions.  But becoming arrogant, stubborn and egoistic about learning and giving advice is probably one of the most damaging behaviours that man can ever do.  Thus it becomes important to learn from our own experiences and follow our own wisdom in order to be able to perhaps make it useful enough for others. Because, wisdom is the of the few things in life that soon becomes absolutely of no value if it cannot be shared or used to benefit others.