Embodied Wisdom

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Learn

My son’s frustration after college showed as he complained, “How can a college grad apply for a job when employers insist on ‘2 years experience’? I can’t have experience in a field unless a business will hire me and let me get experience!”

I remember the same dilemma in my early years as a training and development consultant when someone said to me, “you can’t be a consultant until you are at least 40 years old” and “you really can’t be an effective manager in an organization until you’ve been married and had to raise children.”

The REAL message is this: An intellectual understanding of a field of study or a practice isn’t complete until you have lived it, learned from experience, and embodied the wisdom you’ve gained.

College of Hard Knocks

In essence, the learning gained by praxis (practice and practical experience) becomes an embodied learning. This is the place where wisdom begins to emerge. We don’t embody knowledge by learning information in a classroom or from a book. We gain wisdom through experience of trial and error, by making mistakes and reflecting on the impact of our decisions, and by making significant commitment and sacrifices to do better.

Action learning, practice and reflection, builds neural circuitry throughout the mind and body. This is the training ground for leadership development. Through praxis we gain an inherent congruence between thought and action—intention and behavior. Our thoughts and actions become empowered at new levels of effectiveness.

Accelerate Embodied Wisdom

Ben Franklin claimed his most important personal development activity was to set an intention at the beginning of the day to live up to a life virtue to the best of his ability. At the end of the day he would mentally review to determine what worked, what didn’t work, and how he could do better tomorrow.

I personally used this approach to launch my career and now use it in the mentoring I do with others. I continue to use it myself every time I begin developing a new skill. The mental review process hinges upon kindness—not criticism—when making an internal appraisal of your behavior. Avoid punishing yourself with harsh judgments or self-condemnation. Instead, offer clear discernments that encourages new choices. This will develop a benevolent internal coach within you.

Our company offers executive coaching and mentoring, especially geared to conquering the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Find out about how mentoring can help shift your mindset from self-criticism to self-enhancing creativity and embodied wisdom. Visit our website at ScheeleLearning.com.

Action Steps
Tonight, set a goal for yourself that you desire to attain tomorrow. Imagine your life as if you have already embodied the wisdom gained by successfully achieving your goal. How will you look, speak, feel, and act as you go through your day? Step into the image of your success and experience it with all your inner senses. Tomorrow morning, engage in life fully with clear purpose and intention. At the end of the day, take 3 minutes to mentally review how the day turned out. Praise what worked so you can do more of it. Re-appraise what didn’t work to determine what you will do differently the following day. Then repeat the process each day until you’ve embodied your new wisdom.
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