Archive for January, 2011

Practical Wisdom

Jan 10, 2011 // No Comments » // From The Inside Out

My mentor and probably the greatest critic in my life Francis recently told me again; “You think too much!”

I supposed this is not the first and the last time he is going to remind me about my favorite pass-time…(kind of).

But why? Why is it so that I always going into deep thoughts and reflection? Even in casual conversation?

Then it struck me one day. The reason most likely is my need to be RIGHT!

You see, I am afraid to be WRONG. I am brought up in a system and environment that being RIGHT is the right way to be.

But here’s a more scarier thought; the need to be RIGHT could also meant that when I am WRONG I think I am still RIGHT… I will garner all reasons, resources, rules and guidelines and so on to justify that I am not WRONG. Yes, I have been there and done that…have you?

The stories Barry Schwartz related in the presentation were both inspiring and practical. I would encourage you to ask these questions after viewing the video:

  • Are there current situation in my life and at work I am inflexible about?
  • Have I been bogged down by system and processes in my life and at work? If so, what are they?
  • Do I conveniently allow rules and guidelines to dictate my decision making in doing what’s RIGHT? Or…
  • Have I dwell deep into my practical wisdom (virtue, love, moral skills etc) to learn of what might be wrong?

NOTE: Barry Schwartz is one of my favorite speaker in the TED network. His idea and thoughts about practical wisdom though not an original concept but he has put it in way that is easy to understand. If you would spend 23 minutes this month on a video I would strongly recommend you to check it out.

Last note

Now, there is a long distance cousin of being RIGHT; that is to be GOOD! Since young I have always strived to be GOOD at what I am tasked to do. Be it a game of football, a talent competition or a task in my workplace. Not that there’s anything wrong for us to pursue excellence, but in the expense of…?

Francis once reminded me.

“When you are GOOD, you PERFORM.”

“When you are NOT GOOD, you …..!” (try filling in the blanks!)

The problem for needing to be good and performing all the time is that it might take away the element of learning in the process.

I learnt of this experience the most recently in my running. I used to set performance (how fast and far) as an outcome that far superseded any other less tangible experience I got in the running process – such as the sensation on my steps, the sound of my breathing and heartbeats etc. When I switch to paying more attention to my experiences and sensation of the run, I began to learn a far greater deal of my performance than previously. The result – I run further and more consistently, and thouroughly enjoyed most of previously considered mundane runs.

I wish this year can be a year of great learning for you!