Ancient wisdom for today (12)

August 12th 2012, Day 12, Proverbs 12

“Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice” Proverbs 12: 15 (The Message)

I met with a couple of people the other day. Both work for a company my employers do business with, one was a new employee of that company, who was shadowing his colleague. The other was telling me that the reason we hadn’t seen him for a few years was that he had taken a job with a rival organisation that had not turned out as he expected – and now he was back.

I listened to some of (his very discrete and generalised comments – no names were mentioned) and it was clear he’d found himself working in a very different culture to the one he expected (or indeed the one he had left and he was glad to have returned.

I asked his ‘shadow’ whether I might be permitted to give him a little advice and, with his consent, observed that as we find our own way in life when we are young we often think that we know best and expect to learn all we need to know from our own mistakes. But in fact often the very best (and least costly) mistakes to learn from are those of other people.

Sometimes advice comes in conversation – sometimes it comes simply by observation. Wisdom is always costly – even learning from someone else requries a certain amount of humility – but that cost is often far less than the cost of gaining the same wisdom the hard way… through your own personal experience.