SMART VS. WISE
"The wise man doesn't give the right answers; he poses the right questions." Claude Levi-Strauss
Some time back I was retained by a family of substantial means to advise and mentor their young adult son who was about to come into a sizable inheritance. During our first meeting, he gave me a puzzled look when I told him that his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were both smart and wise.
"What does that mean?" he queried. "I thought those two words were synonyms."
"Not so," I replied. "Let me share with you several differences."
"A clever person solves a problem; a wise person avoids it." Albert Einstein
"A smart man only believes half of what he hears; a wise man knows which half." Jeff Cooper
"Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens." Jimi Hendrix
"A smart man knows what to say; a wise man knows whether to say it." Garafola
"Smart people choose what to achieve. Wise people choose what to become." Arun Parang
"So, given the context in which you and I are meeting," I asked, "why do you think I said your great-grandfather, your grandfather, and your father were both smart and wise?"
"Well, my great-grandfather and my grandfather must have been pretty smart to make all the money our family has," he answered. "But a lot of people make money only to lose it themselves or have it squandered by their children. They must have been wise to make long-range plans and to prepare our family to hold onto the wealth, now into the fourth generation."
"I think you're catching on," I said. "If a person your age were wise, what would he do if he were about to come into a large sum of money?"
"A wise person my age would learn all he could about finances. He would pay attention to the many dangers that could separate him from his money. He would listen to those who have the training and experience to keep him out of trouble. He would try to take a long-range view of his life and not just blow his money on fancy cars and such."
"You are on the path to wisdom, young man."
"Thank you, Mr. Farnsworth. I have another question for you. I can see that my great-grandfather and my grandfather were wise, but why do you say that about my dad? He just manages our family investments, files the tax returns, and stuff like that. He didn't set up any of this planning."I answered his question with a question: "Who do you think hired me to work with you and teach you the difference between being smart and being wise?"