The Four Steps Towards Developing Personal Wisdom

Can one develop wisdom so to live a happier and wiser life?  The late wisdom author Copthorne Macdonald seems to think so in his essay ‘Developing Personal Wisdom’ which highlights four levels towards personal wisdom development.

The following is an excerpt from the aforementioned essay:

In the late 1990s there were meetings in Burkina Faso of a “Council of the Wise.” This was a group of people from different countries and backgrounds who wanted to foster the development of wisdom in African culture. A useful outcome of these meetings, and a good starting point for this topic, was the identification of four levels of wisdom development.

  • POTENTIAL SAGES includes almost everyone. These are busy people who have the potential to become wise, but have never felt the call to intentionally develop wisdom.
  • SAGES IN INTENTION have come to understand what wisdom is, realize that they have the potential to become wise, and have decided, as the Council put it, to “follow the path of their potential.”
  • DEVELOPING SAGES are actively involved in wisdom-developing activities.
  • ESTABLISHED SAGES are those who are recognized by others as wise people.

As I have come to understand it, we become wiser people in two ways:

  1. By exposing ourselves to wisdom-fostering INFLUENCES, and
  2. by energetically dedicating ourselves to helpful PRACTICES. That is, we intentionally practice, with effort, the behaviors and attitudes that we someday hope to become effortless expressions of our deepest, truest selves.

If we want to become wiser people, we can become “Sages in Intention,” then “Budding Sages,” and develop the characteristics of wisdom — the relevant perspectives, and values, and intellectual knowledge — and incorporate them into our lives. Here we’ll consider some tools to help us do that.


Read More: Developing Personal Wisdom written by Copthorne Macdonald

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