You don’t have to wait until you’re old to get it. You can have it right now. It’s something that will make all the difference in the world.
It’s your own wisdom.
And it comes from seeing yourself as you are from an accepting place. Not as you would like to be, not as you are going to be, but as you are. Completely. Acceptable.
(Otherwise you know you’re really keeping secrets from yourself right?)
Wisdom comes from looking in the mirror – whether that mirror is literal or it comes in the form of life’s experiences. It is the allowing of being able to see yourself engaging or not engaging to know if the reflection you’re looking at is accurate.
(Is this me? Or me not being me and trying to get away with it?)
Wisdom is what happens when you create meaning out of the experiences you have in your life (especially if the experience is personally challenging). You have wisdom to thank for offering you useful clarity, confidence and authenticity – the three main ingredients for fairy tale careers come true.
And when your wisdom is at work alongside you, it means that you’re not feeling stagnant repeating scenes that might look different, but that somehow leave you feeling the same kind of bad.
Wisdom takes your life and all the years you’ve lived and creates something innocent out of it.
Because contrary to what you may have been taught to believe, you need to keep a part of you innocent to make it to the end of your life. You need a part of you to remain innocent and intact if you are to engage with your career in the most authoritative and primary way that a human being can – using the force and magic of real, genuine, authentic curiosity.
your wisdom + your innocence = joy in this lifetime
This is why such profound things can come out of the mouths of babes – whether that “babe” is 5 and you’re 37 and talking to them. Or you’re the “babe” at 37 and someone 78 is listening to you.
What wisdom is not, that it often gets mistaken for though is a regret. Like my old friend here:
So, there’s this older fella I know that separated from his wife a long, long while ago. He hates her guts even though a lot of time has passed. He’s in his 70s now. And he certainly isn’t shy about what he thinks about her. He’ll tell you story after story to prove how dreadful and controlling she is and always was.
He has much to be grateful for. He has wealth. He has a new partner in his life. His children are all adults and taking care of themselves and each other. They’re all healthy and beautiful. He travels.
But what does he talk about with the most energy and gusto? His ex.
(At the time, I was perplexed: He was old. Where was his wisdom? Why was he still hanging on? Why would he not grieve this experience and put it to rest so that he could be free? He wasn’t taking this to his grave was he?!)
Maybe he’d never been asked about his wisdom. Maybe it was there … in there somewhere. So I did it. I asked: What did you learn from the experience? What was the gift? The lesson? The take away? What do you want others to know that are walking in your shoes right now facing what you did?
Him: “What did I learn? Shouldn’ta married her. She’s a horrible woman.”
Me: “Really? That’s it? That’s what your legacy is from this experience.”
Him: “Absolutely. Never ever shoulda married her.”
Ever since that conversation I decided to observe myself looking for where I am as blind as he in my own life. It’s been eight years since. Listening to myself for when I have refused to grieve so that I could let go without shame and blame, but from wisdom.
And this practice has served me. I have a beautiful life. I sleep really well.
And from witnessing us both, here’s what I realized. Here is my wisdom to share: He doesn’t have any compassion for why he married her. He doesn’t understand or have understanding for why he married her. He doesn’t know who he was that made the same choices for a long time. So he doesn’t know who he is. He doesn’t want to see what is.
And really one of the purposes of wisdom is to have knowledge and awareness of who you really are – the person you are that you don’t want to hide from yourself – the jealous, the lovely, the kind, the incompetent, the brave. It’s all possible without denial that we are human and this is human stuff. As well as the being you are that won’t be here anymore one day. Not now, but one day.
Wisdom comes when you don’t need to hate yourself or another for the way things are. You see that it was all a co-created learning space.
But my old friend couldn’t have his wisdom or do this because we are taught that everything has to be one person’s fault. And if that must be the case, then there is no wisdom to have.
Behind the angry words, I know that he’s heartbroken that the dream he had for himself and his whole family never came true. A dream of happiness for all.
He genuinely thought that that is what he was creating staying in that situation all that time. He couldn’t observe himself in the context of what was happening. He wanted to believe that it was different than it was.
You blame whoever makes it hurt the least. Even though it hurts a lot. Until you want your wisdom more.
Hurt is what leads to wisdom – it’s a crack of opportunity that can break your heart wide open. That innocence of really understanding that you didn’t understand what you were co-creating with others because if you did, you would have let go sooner, surrendered sooner, been okay with what everyone wanted for themselves sooner. Including you.
The sooner all this happens in any given moment, the happier you are in your life. You can live with your choices with greater peace than I know that you do.
So instead, my dear old friend blames her. Because if he doesn’t, he believes that the only other option is to blame himself.
But this is nothing more than the strategy that keeps the pain alive and well.
And then there was this one other time, I was talking to a five-year-old. I asked her if she knew what love was and if she could tell me. I confided that I was struggling to understand this. It was feeling hard. She actually seemed mad at me for asking. Like I was wasting her precious time.
She very impatiently explained to me: “No one can tell you what love is. You have to decide for yourself. You just hang out with people that think the same as you now.”
(And I guess that would apply to how I define work too. Of course.)
Ironic how what I was looking for from the 70-year-old came out the mouth of a 5-year-old.
Isn’t that the way.
So ask your inner five-year old for career wisdom: What they want you to know or remember about the way to your own career fairy tale come true. What do they have to say?
BTW – The reason you can ask your inner 5-year-old for something is because you’ve already been 5 years old. And that’s when your wisdom was full of precious, useful, game-changing innocence.
(I asked mine already rather than bother another 5-year-old. The answer was just as good. She said: “You’re supposed to just be you.”)
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