Can wisdom really be learned?
Wisdom is a fuzzy concept for a lot of people. We know it when we see it, but we can’t put it into words.
However, if you drill into the concept, you will find that there are accepted descriptions.
In a business setting, wisdom is only useful if it is operationalized - that is, if it comes into play. At Red Queen, our definition is that wisdom is found when one employs human judgment, based on a broad perspective, to influence or make good decisions.
With this definition, wisdom breaks down into component pieces, listed in the diagram above. All of these components are then open to some degree of development through training and intentional practice. Some individuals may have more of certain characteristics through natural inclination and past experience, but everyone can benefit from a program of support and improvement.
If you considered the different behaviors and characteristics that are seen as making up wisdom, then the answer is “yes.”
For example, studies comparing decision making between older and younger groups and reveal that older adults (age 50+) are more likely to tolerate other opinions, be aware of long-term consequences, or be aware of one’s limitations.
Of course this is a statement about averages and correlation, not absolutes and causation. In other words, not every wise person is older, and not every older person is wise.
One other correlation to be aware of: those who score higher on wisdom metrics (based on self-reporting) also score higher on general happiness and mental wellbeing.