When I was 19, for about a year I acted, danced and sung my way across New Zealand with a performing arts company – one of the coolest things I’ve done.
It was a great experience. I performed in some iconic New Zealand theatres, met some fantastic people and made some life-long friends – but looking back in hindsight these were not the things that would impact me most on that tour.
The tour introduced me to a person who would shift how I see the world – someone like noone I’d ever met before.
He was an interesting character. A gentle giant who stood at about six-foot-two (or it seemed so at the time). He would’ve been in his fifties then – a tall, lean, white male who everyday donned the same set of thick glasses perched lightly on his nose and had a head of greying hair that always looked slightly unkempt.
A part of his role on tour was to drive our tour bus. We spent hours on that bus – travelling from city to city – town to town. And while he drove, I found myself for hours on end sitting next to the guy, picking his brain about everything and anything. From practical stuff to big picture stuff, from people’s everyday problems to life’s big questions.
On that bus, for that year, I learnt more about myself and the world than I had learnt in any other year in my life. That person taught and helped me experience life concepts and ideas that still inspire and bamboozle me to this day.
Given all this – there was one lesson he embodied that stood above them all.
He modelled for me what a wise person is.
And this led me to explore the difference between a smart person – and a wise person.
Beyond that tour bus, I have interacted with many different kinds of people from many different walks of life, and in my experience the people I’ve met have fallen into one catergory or the other. Few have fallen into both.
So – based on my experience (and opinion) – here are several differences I have encountered between smart people – and wise people.
Smart people know a lot. Wise people apply what they know well.
Smart people tell you about something. Wise people show you something.
Smart people present arguments. Wise people walk you through experiences.
Smart people can make the simple complex. Wise people make the complex simple.
Smart people protect what they know benefitting themselves. Wise people share what they know benefitting others.
Smart people revel in the mystery of their work. Wise people willingly help others unlock their mystery.
Smart people hate being wrong. Wise people recognise being wrong as an opportunity to be better.
Smart people look to critique others. Wise people know the critiquing begins with themselves.
Our Parliament is filled with smart people… not necessarily wise people.
Our universities are filled with smart people… not necessarily wise people.
Our churches are filled with smart people… not necessarily wise people.
My hope for all of us is that one of the big pursuits in our life would not be limited to just becoming smarter.
My hope is that like my now friend from that tour all those years ago, we would continually pursue becoming wiser.
I wanted to finish this piece by honouring that friend I met all those years ago on that tour. Those conversations we had on that bus have changed my life forever. Thanks Gee.
Photo credit: www.zazzle.com