The Road to Wisdom

The Road to Wisdom? — Well, it’s plain
and simple to express:

and err
and err again,

but less
and less
and less.  (Piet Hein, 1905-1996, The Road to Wisdom)

The efficient and insightful poetry of Piet Hein (which he called grooks) can sometimes help us find the crucial point, of which very point he says:

I’d like to know
what this whole show
is all about
before it’s out.  (Piet Hein, I’d Like)

Oh, to have the prescient sagacity to know, to be able to look ahead, even a little, with certainty when we create and cultivate a Learn-Do-Teach-Lead workplace.  To be able to look ahead, like timing toast:

There’s an art of knowing when.
Never try to guess.
Toast until it smokes and then
twenty seconds less.  (Piet Hein, Timing Toast)

Of course!

What does it take, for example, to create an environment in which it is actually possible “to err, and err, and err again, but less, and less, and less?”

What does it take?  To make an effort.

Our so-called limitations, I believe,
apply to faculties we don’t apply.
We don’t discover what we can’t achieve
until we make an effort not to try.  (Piet Hein, Making an Effort)

And having begun, how long do we persist as work-group leaders and members engage in  the sometimes messy and not-always-linear business of task-at-hand learning, of doing a job all the while looking for opportunities for improvement and innovation, of teaching and freely dispersing knowledge and attitude, and of leading one’s self and others in these same exercises?

Put up in a place
where it’s easy to see
the cryptic admonishment

When you feel how depressingly
slowly you climb,
it’s well to remember that
Things Take Time.  (Piet Hein, T.T.T.)

Yes.  Things Take Time.  Yet, in my experience, once embarked on the LDTL path, time and motion accelerate.  Action increasingly supplants inaction, and the cycle of action/learning quickens.  Curiosity and learning breed engagement and quicken thought.  Teaching flows naturally as personal growth manifests.  Leadership is a thing done, recognized, and welcomed, not a thing studied and discussed.  People grow. Culture shifts.

These thoughts may seem like impossibilities, but

‘Impossibilities’ are good
not to attach that label to;
since, correctly understood,
if we wanted to, we would
be able to be able to.  (Piet Hein, Wanting to Be Able To)

Imagine, if we wanted to, we would be able to be able to learn, to do, to teach, and to lead.  To introduce these practices into the workplace ourselves by modeling the LDTL attitude, vision, and practice and by engaging just one other work-group member.

Yes, you will run into problems, because

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.  (Piet Hein, Problems)

Perfect time to be brave in the face of adversity.  Learn.  Do.  Teach.  Lead.

To be brave is to behave
bravely when your heart is faint.
So you can be really brave
only when you really ain’t.  (Piet Hein, Brave)

And, of course, now is the time because

Living is
a thing you do
now or never –
which do you?

If not now, then when?  If not you, then who?

Learn.  Do.  Teach.  Lead.

With a bow to Piet Hein.


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2 Responses to The Road to Wisdom

  1. David Jerome says:

    Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back.
    A good piece my friend.
    A satisfying call to remembrance that we are to persevere.

  2. Pingback: Index: Titles by Date | Learn-Do-Teach-Lead

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