Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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The Differentiating Quality

The Thriving Essentials Series: Episode 8


Knowledge without wisdom is limited and limiting.

We desire to be brilliant: to be known as one capable of grasping complex subjects and breaking them down so that the average person can understand. To cultivate this ability, we may read books, speak to connoisseurs in various fields, and accumulate a bookshelf of diplomas. We do so believing that by being knowledgeable and recognized as such, we can achieve our goals, overcome struggles, and potentially evade some.

However, have you ever known someone incredibly talented or intellectually gifted who struggles to lead a successful life? I have a hunch that many of us have. We might even have posed this question about ourselves. Indeed, this is a vital question to ask and explore because what we know influences our thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

To better grasp this, let us explore the concepts of knowledge and wisdom.


Beyond knowledge

First, I encourage you to consider that we need more than knowledge to succeed and thrive. I often think of knowledge as a reservoir of information. – An experienced chemist can rattle off all the elements on the periodic table in the blink of an eye. A knowledgeable historian can enumerate the stats of wars in chronological order. Also, a doctor might be able to name all the medications that can cure a particular ailment.

However, when we speak to a chemist, historian, or doctor, we seek more than what we can find in a history book, Encyclopedia, or on Google. – We are looking for insights, understanding, and guidance on application. But what enables this? The quality that allows one to go from acquiring knowledge to gaining insight, developing a deep understanding, and deciphering how to apply what they know is wisdom.


Unlocking wisdom

  • Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships. (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
  • Wisdom is the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments. (Cambridge Dictionary)

These definitions bear many similarities. – Wisdom shows up in our ability to leverage our knowledge and experience to discern a matter, arrive at a sound judgment, and execute a solid decision. But, like other worthwhile desires, wisdom is difficult to cultivate.
To make this real, I will share a story.

As a pre-teen, I learned the value of being wise, not simply knowledgeable. When I was 12 years old, my parents and I relocated to a new country, and I went to an international school that required students to complete several standardized tests before admission. After completing the tests, the officials recommended I advance faster. – This was music to my ears because I was the youngest in my family and frequently called the baby. Of course, I cherished the nickname when it got me what I wanted, like the first dibs of dessert at the dining table. However, I was also disturbed by the baby reference, as it insinuated that I would never call the shots, and I desperately wanted authority. Therefore, the recommendation to advance faster felt validating! I viewed it as an acknowledgment that there was more to me than met the eye. Little did I know!


Life lessons

When my mom heard the recommendation for me to advance at a fast clip, she refused. Expectedly, I was offended at her refusal, but she was adamant. She said, my child may be able to gain the required knowledge to do well in higher grades. However, I am concerned she will struggle socially and emotionally with much older classmates. In time and with exposure, she will mature and gain the wisdom she needs. There is no need to rush.

Whoa! I was distraught! Candidly, I did not think I was bursting with intelligence because my older sister, Jessie, consistently demonstrated high intellectual horsepower, and growing up around her, I quickly realized that my raw ability was limited. However, I was relentless and adhered to my perfectionist mantra: If you set a bar, exceed it, even if it requires great sacrifice. For this reason, my mother’s insinuation, or rather emphatic statement that I lacked something, disturbed me.


The Crossroads: Knowledge and Wisdom

Unsurprisingly, my mom had her way, and in later years, I learned the meaning of wisdom and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. – A knowledgeable person is like a reservoir, and a wise person is like a filtration system. A reservoir can hold an abundance of almost anything, but a filtration system eliminates what is needless and reveals what is most valuable. Essentially, my mother’s refusal was based on the understanding that I could grasp information but was not yet sufficiently discerning, and quick advancement would be a liability socially and emotionally. Furthermore, my mom understood that the value of school goes beyond grades. School is an introduction to the realities of life and being a human amongst other humans.
I did not appreciate it then, but today, I do. I was fortunate my mom put her foot down and prevented me from getting into a situation where I was unprepared and could not thrive.

Preparedness is vital for sustainable success. With an abundance of knowledge and a deficit of wisdom, inevitably, we flail. – We desire to be the head of a team because we know how to do the jobs of those on the team but lack the foresight and discernment to guide the team to the next level. Or we pursue our dreams with gusto but use poor judgment in executing them. Often, such missteps lead to failure because we have the facts, skills, and experience to venture on a promising path but lack the insightfulness, discernment, and judgment to see it through.
Indeed, to thrive, we must cultivate and exercise wisdom. Specifically, insightfulness, discernment, and sound judgment.

Until next time.

For you and to you,


A Little Gem!

Education does not only happen in a classroom. We learn most in the school of life, where success requires much more than academic fortitude.
Someone I value learning from is not a formal educator. But she educates many by exploring and sharing. Her name is Lisa Ling. Most of us know her from her years-long Journalist career, as do I. A segment that stood out to me was an exploration where Lisa explored to help others and unexpectedly discovered a vital truth about herself. It is very informative! You may check it out at The ADHD Explosion | Our America with Lisa Ling


Image credit: Pexels | Vojtech Okenka



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