One of the advantages of developing and following a proper PDCA cycle is the ability to learn and acquire wisdom. There is an old cliché that says, “experience is the best teacher.” I don’t agree with that at all. I believe “evaluated experience is the best teacher.” It does no good to have experiences without learning. That “old cliché” assumes that the only thing needed to have experience is age. Sadly, most live their lives in such a way that they aren’t really learning. They’re repeating. How many of you know people in your own life that are getting older, but are not getting any better? Experience doesn’t always come with age, sometimes age comes alone. John Foster Dulles, former Secretary of State said, “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”
Wisdom requires that we arrange what we observe and know, and create meaning from it; it also requires that we consider what we need to unlearn as well. American essayist Norman Cousins wrote, “Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.” Throughout my leadership walk I have discovered that wisdom is about the thinking through of thoughts, behaviors, and actions while at the same time, being able to see their relationships. It is seeing how things are connected. Understanding how everything is connected is a daunting task, but it shouldn’t cause indecision. We still have to function. Professors Pfeffer and Sutton suggest in their book “Hard Facts” that “we must travel through life with an attitude of wisdom. That attitude is described as the ability to act with knowledge while doubting what you know. This attitude enables people to act on what they already know while at the same time doubting what they know. It means they can do things now, as well as keep learning along the way. It implies a certain degree of humility to make it work. You really have to be able to get out of your own way. The best leaders never believe they “arrive” in any area, but they always strive to improve. We should never expect perfection, but we should continually expect better!