When people look to further their education or their skills, they look toward colleges, universities and training companies. They read books, magazines, newsletters; watch videos, or turn to their favorite search engine. In today’s information-rich world, virtually everything you might want to know is available if you look in the right places. Education and skills alone, however, are not always enough to ensure the type of achievement and success one might be seeking in life. Our attitudes, of course, play a significant role, but perhaps the most important thing we can develop and expand is our wisdom.

There is a difference between education and wisdom. Wisdom is the difference between knowing the right choices to make, and actually making the right choices. It is the difference between knowing something and truly understanding it. We have all met educated people who we would not consider wise, and chances are we have all met some very wise people who were not highly educated. It’s been said that wisdom comes with age and experience, but that’s not always the case either. There are plenty of old and experienced fools around.

The great thing about wisdom is that it’s everywhere, and you don’t have to look far to find it. You do have to look, though, and that’s the trick. The key to gaining wisdom is awareness – awareness of the things around you and the people around you.

Want to become more successful at work? Observe people who are achieving the type of success you would like to have. Watch what they do, how they do it, when they do it, and who they do it with. Then watch people who struggle, or those who never seem to attain what they are seeking. Pay close attention to the difference between the two, and let your actions be guided accordingly.

Don’t restrict your observation just to people at work or people in high places. Some of the greatest wisdom you can acquire will come from the unlikeliest of sources – children, casual acquaintances, strangers, pets, wildlife – pretty much anywhere you can imagine. You just have to keep your mind and eyes open. It’s not an accident that Robert Fulghum’s classic, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, was a runaway best-seller.

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