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Archive for March 19th, 2011

Also part of my credo

There is this saying I have picked up somewhere and that keeps popping into my head from time to time. Today I have a chance to revisit it . “Wise man learn from others’ mistake. Smart men learn from own mistakes.” There is also a similar version of this statement:
“An unintelligent man repeats his mistakes, a smart man learns from his mistakes, and a wise man learns from his mistakes and the mistakes of others”.
It’s a profound statement indeed.
The first third of the statement is pretty self explanatory. True. “An unintelligent man repeats his mistakes.” That has to be true because someone who continuously repeats their mistakes isn’t learning. If you aren’t learning, you can’t become intelligent. What I can’t understand is some intelligent man keeps repeating the same mistakes. But then, it’s just because the way we perceive people as “intelligent” … Again, define “smart”, “intelligence”, “clever”,…   What guarantees a book-smarter, or someone who has high intelligence test scores is well-versed in all manners of the brain?  This is simply not the case. In addition to what we normally consider to be intelligence, another component, known as Emotional Intelligence, also exists, and it plays a major role in the way that we interact with others and in various social situations.  We depend on our emotional intelligence to speak, do something for someone else, to respond, to react,…
The second part of the statement is where I feel the majority of people fall. “A smart man learns from his mistakes” shows that the person is learning lessons.

    Learning lessons breeds intelligence, if it is used properly.

That is the key. But, I am going to give people the benefit of the doubt and say they use their knowledge properly. 
What is particular profound to me is the third part of the statement – “A wise man learns from his mistakes and the mistakes of others”. The key in this phrase for me is the use of the word ‘wise’. We live in the world where wisdom is no longer a focus point in a child’s education. It tends to be an “inquisitive” or self-educating department, as it is believed that Wisdom is acquired through personal experience and enriched with a commitment to learn and therefore it is timeless; whereas Knowledge is acquired through school learning and can change over time. Emotional Intelligence is one facet of wisdom.  ‘Wise’ in the dictionary refers to someone with remarkable, extensive knowledge and great manner; someone who has the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting as in “a wise leader is sagacious”; someone who exhibits common sense, who is prudent. “Wise beyond his years” is another phrase that shows the profound importance of the word ‘wise’. “Smart beyond his years”? “Intelligent beyond his years”? Those phrases do not work.
The critical idea is learning from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others, regardless of your gender, male or female. One person can only experience so many things. So, if you can learn from other people and capture their failures, you can use that information to choose new, unique personal experiences. This is what makes a smart person intelligent.  That is what separates the smart man/woman from the wise man/woman. The wise person gets more knowledge by channeling the experiences of others, not repeating the other person’s failures, and adding to his/her knowledge by having own new, unique experiences. As a daily reminder of my life, I try not to repeat my mistakes or the mistakes I have learned from others. And I feel that this does give me a distinct advantage above others.

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