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THE BIOLOGY OF WISDOM

Making Brains Change

THE IMPACT OF WISDOM ON LEADERSHIP

Wisdom goes far beyond information. Most information today has a very short shelf life, and what we know today will be obsolete tomorrow. But wisdom goes beyond knowledge. Wisdom is eternal.

For context I’ll say it again, “Wisdom shifts the context, the content and relationships. When wisdom is involved, people speak to one another in a different tone. When wisdom is present, people listen, empathetically, to each other.

When wisdom is accessible, people stop trying to be right, halt making others wrong and cease trying to dominate. They stop defending themselves, allowing everyone to move forward together toward an agreed-upon future.”

Wisdom allows a leader to speak and hear beyond the words spoken. To truly understand where the words are coming from – what’s behind and between the words – what’s in the implicit. Wisdom can hear the “unsaid.”

Wisdom gives a leader a much greater capacity to operate successfully with others, to master difficult situations with ease and grace, to understand the deeper patterns of why things are the way they are.

That’s what wisdom can do for leaders.

THE BIOLOGY OF WISDOM

Realizing the power of wisdom, I have spent many hours exploring its phenomenon. I have researched it from many different aspects. However, I was surprised to learn about its impact on brain development. Simply put, becoming wise changes the brain.

 

Part of your brain is the “insula.”

The insula is located deep within the folds of the Cerebral Cortex (the wrinkly, outermost layer that surrounds the brain). The insula plays a role in a variety of functions including:

  • Interoception (feeling and understanding sensations in the body – yours and detecting it in others)
  • Body movement 
  • Visual and auditory awareness of movement 
  • Self-recognition
  • Vocalization and music 
  • Emotional awareness 
  • Risk, uncertainty, anticipation 
  • Time perception 
  • Attention
  • Perceptual decision-making 
  • Cognitive control and performance monitoring 

Studies show that people of wisdom have increased thickness of the cerebral cortex in the insula, which leads to greater attunement to the ongoing physical and emotional states of oneself and others.

This increase in the insula enables wise leaders to better self-regulate, to more deeply understand theirs and others' needs, and to meet the needs appropriately.

Wise leaders are more aware of stress and emotional buildup in themselves and others and understand how to reduce or eliminate it.

Wisdom enhances a leader’s faculty of perceiving or apprehending, utilizing the senses, as well as the mind in cognition and understanding. Wisdom enhances a leader's intuitive recognition or appreciation of the moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities of others.

Wisdom enhances the capacity to see the whole rather than just the parts. This ability to see the whole is achieved through insight, which is the gateway to wisdom (see diagram below).

Our company has developed a particular model, with associated processes and protocol, to expand wisdom in leaders directly. And, our work with leaders on expanding their wisdom now has the backing of enough science to have me hold it as legitimate. And I’ve seen it work with numbers of people.

CLOSING STATEMENT

Although the name of the company is MBC, initially representing my initials when I began the company in 1984, it could now be interpreted as MBCMaking Brains Change.

Given the recent findings on brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, a term that refers to the brain's ability to change and adapt as a result of experience, the science fully supports our conclusion. That expanding wisdom in leaders makes a significant and lasting difference in the brains of leaders.

Note* - Portions of this article are derived from the work of Werner Erhard and Landmark Worldwide, and are used with permission.

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