The Only Wisdom that Works for Everyone

I’ve been listening to a series of interviews with legendary authors who were asked to share their life wisdom. I expected to be shaken to my core by their words of insight. After all, these are writers who have left us gasping at the beauty of their written words. Instead, I was shocked by how “ordinary” these great writers sounded, and how simple their words of wisdom really were.

Maybe it’s not fair for us to hold our great contributors to such high standards, but often in times of crisis, like this current pandemic, we turn to our sages to provide the words of comfort and clarity we so desperately need. And sometimes they say exactly what we long to hear. Other times, their suggestions leave us confused or dissatisfied or even frustrated. I’m not just talking about advice from our favorite celebrity gurus, but from our personal teachers, mentors, or family members.

When I think back on some of the most profound words of wisdom I’ve received, many came from very ordinary folks whom I had interviewed for a story, or from someone I’d just met in a networking situation, or from a colleague who had, at one time, walked through the same struggle I was describing. Often times, it’s not those to whom we are closest or those whom we most admire who provide our greatest instruction, it’s total strangers. Why is that?

I think it’s because we already know what we need to know. It’s intuitive, it’s inside us. And when we hear it, we recognize its echo. It resonates because we feel it is true.

The answers to what you need right now to get you through this crisis, to reconnect with your creativity, to help you grow beyond this experience, are within you. Seek counsel with yourself. Get quiet—meditate, pray, or go for a long walk. Or talk with someone you trust and listen to their perceptions, but also listen to the deep insights that come out of your own mouth during that conversation. Sometimes we just need to hear ourselves say it out loud.

Ask yourself when you’ve felt most at ease during this difficult time. What brought you comfort, what gave you hope, what raised your energy, and whatever it was, do more of that. We are all different. There is no sage wise enough to provide a piece of advice so all-encompassing it’ll work for all of us all the time. Trust your inner guidance. You’ve got this.

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