“You can tell whether one is clever by his or her answers. You can tell whether one is wise by his or her questions.” ~ Naguib Mahfouz …
Although we often tend to credit clever individuals with wisdom, there are stark differences between the two. A clever mind possesses the ability to gain knowledge, skills, logic, and reasoning, and then to use them in a brilliant or amazing way. But cleverness does not necessarily employ morality… as we saw with the Enron scandal. There, clever minds were able to use accounting loopholes and poor financial reporting to hide billions in debt that ultimately led to huge losses for investors and employees alike. And similarly, cleverness, aside from entertainment, is quite useless and insignificant in our lives. We often find clever individuals to be fun and entertaining–the jokesters, the storytellers, the magicians. These individuals may always seem to have a witty answer, but does that answer bring about anything of real value?
As we grow older and gain more wisdom, we often see a profound difference in the way we look at cleverness and wisdom. As a boy, I liked to surround myself with witty and clever individuals so that I would hear plenty of good jokes and be entertained every moment I could be. Yet over the years, I have come to find that cleverness really only provided me with one temporary thing–momentary entertainment. Wisdom, however, provides for me something valuable and lasting that stays with me as I journey through life.
Cleverness can be amusing. Cleverness can be cunning. Cleverness can build up or break down. But it requires great wisdom to yield cleverness in a way that is wholesome, life-giving, and life-sustaining. What questions do I present to others? Do they offer motivation to help them think about life more deeply and bring them to a greater understanding and knowledge of their own feelings, thoughts, and actions? Wisdom is the ultimate force to inspire, teach, assist, enlighten, and instill in others all that is necessary for their journey in life. Seek it, embrace it, grow in it, and share it.
Share some of your wisdom with those around you.
Questions to consider:
What is the difference between cleverness and wisdom?
Why do we often feel it necessary to give clever answers to others, rather than asking wise questions that may help them to discover their own answers?
How can providing others with wise questions benefit them in ways that are otherwise not possible?
For further thought:
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~ Rumi