Wisdom vs. Cleverness

Persian poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Rumi, who lived in the 13th century, is credited with first writing,


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”


Though they may be listed as synonyms in a thesaurus, there is a significant difference between cleverness and wisdom. A person who is clever may be sharp, skillful, witty and inventive, but a person who is wise possesses discernment, good judgment and discretion. Both cleverness and wisdom are valuable attributes, but if I had to choose one over the other, I would definitely pick wisdom.


The wiser a leader becomes, the more clearly that leader understands and acts upon the knowledge that in order to most effectively change a team, company, environment or the world, the leader must first change himself or herself.


Great, wise leaders want to change the world in order to make it a better place. There has never been a time in history when the potential for positive and innovative change has been bigger or better. However, more and more leaders are increasingly getting caught up in the cleverness of our new change-driven age.  If you don’t believe the previous statement, you are not recognizing and absorbing the reality of what is happening in leadership circles throughout the world.


Positive, long-term, wisdom-driven leadership starts from within. Pursue, focus and execute your leadership NOT based on cleverness. Pursue, focus and execute your leadership based on hard-earned, priceless wisdom.


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”


Just as culture eats strategy for lunch, so it is that wisdom eats cleverness for breakfast and dinner!

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I am a leader, speaker, and author who is passionate about Leadership Excellence and Achieiving Greater Success. I am the author of the books Be An Inspirational Leader(2016) and Presidential Leadership (2013), and deliver keynote presentations on those topics and several others.

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