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What Is Wisdom?

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

As we move further into the 21st Century, technology, robotics, and AI continue to take over traditional human functions in data, information, and knowledge. A recent US study shows that 88 percent of organizations surveyed added or scaled up AI technologies since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to IPSoft, an AI software company based in New York City.

Moreover, some experts predict that starting in 2020, knowledge will double every 35 years, continuing to cause people to become overwhelmed, unfocused, and operating far below their full potential, states business writer Catherine Pfister.

Humanity faces a number of other major challenges in today's era: from climate change, gender issues, and disconnection from Nature, to high levels of overwhelm and disengagement from work, and the expansion of human consciousness as we become a global community.

These shifts in the marketplace and in personal development are opening the door for human evolution worldwide. People now have the opportunity to make a leap into a new mode of operationone that is based in wisdomto help us find clarity, purpose, and passion in a world full of overload.

Trends in the Marketplace and Personal Development Open Door to Wisdom

Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson, researchers and authors of the landmark book The Cultural Creatives, state that "if humanity is to survive this period of planetary crises, we need a collective positive image of a future that works for all." Wisdom, the authors suggest, is "an antidote to the rampant fear, cynicism, and despair of our age."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, agrees that wisdom is the way forward. In a YouTube livestream event in September, he said that wisdom leads us to a sense of purpose about our lives, where we can find fulfillment and express our potential.

The Dalai Lama sees limitations to humanity's hyper-focus on the material world. "Today's world is focused mainly on material development and pleasure," he said during the three-day livestream. "With these, are people happier? Is there more peace, good health, and peace of mind? That is not the case. So although there has been so much advancement in material development, people's desire and greed have increased. Material developments actually become conditions for increasing our negative emotions."

Humanity needs more wisdom, he stated, "to use our intelligence to see the pros and cons of our actions. You need to know the purpose of what you are doing, and then engage in the actions."

Wisdom shifts you into a new mode of communication and upgrades you to a new operating system inside yourself, as the graphic below shows. Traditional Christian teaching, notably in Corinthians, points out that knowledge puffs you up, but love and wisdom build you up. Wisdom taps into your creativity and your deepest connections. Wisdom allows you to free yourself of overwhelm, find clarity, and build a more purposeful and meaningful life.

Global Trends Are Shifting Our Internal Operating System from Knowledge to Wisdom

With wisdom, you can break through to a new reality that is based in whole-brained awareness. Wisdom unifies your internal states of existence: your mind, emotions, body, and your values and beliefs. In a unified state, your potential can unfold more easily.

In addition, wisdom allows you to operate in the present moment. Presence is a powerful state of being. "The more present we are, the more meaningful our entire lives become," Madisyn Taylor, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Daily OM, writes in the August 31 edition of the online publication.

Taylor suggests that wisdom taps into a deeper and more expansive place in ourselves and, thus, is the best place to find solutions to our challenges. "When we are unsure of who to trust, how to respond, or what we require, the answers lie in our inner wisdom," Taylor writes in Daily OM in May. Our wisdom, she states, "knows where we are going and understands where we are coming from, taking this into account though it is not a product of experience but rather a piece of our connection to the universal mind."

Leading-Edge Research Is Seeking to Define Wisdom People at the leading edge of research and development of human potential are working to more precisely understand and define wisdom. New theories about wisdom are emerging, and researchers are studying the social, emotional, and cognitive processes that convert experience into wisdom, according to Psychology Today, a general-interest publication and online resource about psychology that includes behavior research and practical guidance.

We at GEI Global Leaders define wisdom as "insight, sound judgment, good sense, and deep knowing," as shown in the graphic below. To us, wisdom is an acute awareness that occurs when you synchronize your brain hemispheres. Wisdom leads to understanding and compassion.

Wisdom Encompasses Insight and Deep Knowing

Many experts agree that wisdom requires a foundation of internal balance that arises from the heart. This perspective is consistent with ancient teachings such as the Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of India, which suggest that our heart is the fulcrum of the entire universe. In other words, our heart is the still point upon which all of the activity of the world balances. Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, suggests that balance leads to fulfillment. "To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders," he stated. In this context, "mind" refers to the entire consciousness of a person, rather than just the brain or mental activities alone.

Wisdom allows you to reflect, feel compassion, and pursue the truth, according to Psychology Today. Wisdom also gives you the ability to take risks and overcome challenges because your fears subside and you are free to strive for success, experts suggest.

Other experts state that wisdom includes love, clarity, and the interplay of your inner and outer world. Wisdom embraces paradox and incorporates the mysterious in our lives. Wisdom includes being comfortable in not knowing.

In addition, wisdom encompasses levels of awareness: the more a person is able to access deeper realms of their subconscious mind, the clearer and more profound is the wisdom that arises. Awareness, researchers state, brings more happiness. Gary Zukav, bestselling author of The Seat of the Soul, puts it succinctly: "Awareness is a blissful state, not a painful one."

Wisdom is often nonverbal and directly perceived, states Psychology Today. Exercising sound judgment, as a part of wisdom, uses both intuitive and pre-conscious processes, called tacit knowing.

The matching of perception, patterns, and actions happens outside of conscious thought, Psychology Today says. Sound judgment recognizes what is there to be perceived in the complex pattern in your life, and then often matches complex actions to the pattern. Wisdom can produce sound judgments about what might make your actions go well or badly. It’s called "tacit knowing" because if you ask somebody how they knew something or how to best act, the answer is, “I just knew,” Psychology Today states.

Your inner wisdom, editor-in-chief Taylor writes, allows you to navigate your life with more ease and confidence. "When you realize that you always have access to the part of you that always knows what you need and is meant to act as your inner compass, you can stop searching outside of yourself," Taylor states in Daily OM in July.

Picking up on these understandings of wisdom, leading-edge organizations now are talking about "awareness-based solutions" to life's challenges. These solutions include a person's ability to be present in the moment and, thus, aware of their choices and actions.

New Science Points to Biological Benefits of Living in Wisdom

New discoveries in biology and the neurosciences are showing positive benefits to living in a state of wisdom. For example, the structure of language itselfthe words we think and speakcan change the way the neurons in our brains and hearts connect, bestselling author Gregg Braden writes in the 2020 book The Wisdom Codes. Creating coherence between the brain and heart supports us in living more into our potential.

"If we think of our creations as the expression of ideas that live within us, then our art, film, music, and writing take on a meaning of something more than simple entertainment," Braden writes. "Such a relationship between our inner and outer worlds leads us to view our inspiration as consciousness informing itself—reminding us of our untapped possibilities and potential."

This awareness helps you to develop a state of wonder and awe, which also are aspects of wisdom. New research is revealing that cultivating a sense of awe rewires your brain in ways that help you de-stress and relax. Being in awe helps you to focus, feel engaged with life, and maintain a sense of flow and presence.

Wisdom prepares us for life’s greatest tests, most challenging demands, and hardest lessons, Braden states. With wisdom, he suggests, you can face your unspoken fears and find certainty within uncertain choices.

Practicing Wisdom Happens Naturally

Wisdom arises spontaneously as you express ourselves through your excellence. The qualities of excellence are attributes that emerge as an expression of your authenticity. These qualities include love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, and harmony.

When these qualities come forth, you discover a universal well of strength and capability that dramatically changes your character and enhances your ability to relate positively to others. With the qualities of excellence, you become more wise, creative, and visionary. You act confidently.

Jesus knew of this inner potential when he spoke, in the language of Aramaic, of love as an action that means "to set on fire." He saw love as a primal light that shines forth from the womb of the Great Cosmic Mother. In other words, when you reside in the love, balance, and harmony of wisdom, your inner fireyour purpose, passion, and potentialcan unfold more easily.

Wisdom Leads to More Presence, Meaning, and Purpose in Life

How can wisdom benefit you and humanity as a whole? Wisdom has an array of benefits, as the graphic below describes. Wisdom allows you to build meaning and purpose in your life. Wisdom reduces stress and increases focus, awareness, and presence. Wisdom helps you to tap into your creativity and find innovative solutions to challenges. Wisdom helps you to build global interconnectedness and a better future for everyone.

The Benefits of Wisdom

"When we live fully in the moment, there is an aliveness that comes easily," Taylor writes in the August article in Daily OM. "When we are fully present, we offer our whole selves to whatever it is that we are doing. Our attention, our integrity, and our energy are all focused in the moment and on the task at hand... When we are in this state, we feel completely alive and invigorated. "The more we draw ourselves into the present moment, the more we honor the gift of our lives, and the more we honor the people around us," Taylor writes. "When we are fully present, we give and receive aliveness in equal measure."

Furthermore, authors Ray and Anderson see a wisdom culture emerging worldwide that transcends national and ethnic identities. "As our modern materialistic way of life falls apart," the authors state, "it opens space for a new civilization to emerge." A global culture based in wisdom helps us see our interconnectedness as humanity and helps us create a better future for all life on Earth.

Wisdom Creates Global Leaders to Fulfill More of Our Potential

Wisdom supports you in becoming a Global Leader. Global Leaders shift from knowledge to wisdom as their primary operating system, as the graphic below shows.

With wisdom, Global Leaders become holistic and transformational. Global Leaders tap into their wisdom to harmonize with complex environments and achieve flow. Global Leaders' interactions evolve into more powerful forms of expression.

Wisdom Shifts People into Global Leaders

With wisdom, Global Leaders begin to operate from a whole-brained state of existence, integrating the intelligences of their right brains and left brains. Global Leaders realize our interrelatedness and interdependence. Global Leaders naturally create Goodwill in Every Interaction.

Goodwill is a mindset of abundance and excellence that empowers us toward a new model of leadership. Goodwill maximizes the gifts of all people. Goodwill allows everyone to be a leader, marshaling all aspects of our being: mind, emotions, body, and values and beliefs. This results in the nurturing of human potential, gender balance, innovation, customer loyalty, and community sustainability.


Anderson, S. and Ray, P. "Cultural Creatives and the Emerging Planetary Wisdom Culture." Accessed June 16, 2020.

Braden, G. (2020) The Wisdom Codes. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.

Dalai Lama. (2020, Sept. 4-6). Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and The Three Principal Aspects of the Path [Video]. YouTube.

Hess, E. "In the AI Age, 'Being Smart' Will Mean Something Completely Different." Harvard Business Review, June 19, 2017.

IPsoft. (2020, August 26). "New Research: 71 percent of US Executives Will Bring Back Furloughed Workers in the Short Term, but AI Investments Made During the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Continue Shaping the US Workforce" [Press release]. Accessed October 30, 2020.

Pfister, C. "Information Overload: What Is It Doing to Your Employees?" Premium Incentive Products Magazine, 2009. Accessed October 28, 2020.

Psychology Today. "Wisdom." Accessed October 30, 2020.

Taylor, M. "Being Fully Present." Daily OM, August 31, 2020.

Taylor, M. "You Have All the Answers Within You." Daily OM, July 1, 2020.

Taylor, M. "Value Your Own Wisdom." Daily OM, May 2020.

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