Data and Wisdom
When we look to another for wisdom, it is not data that we seek.
We want more than information; we need more.
We deserve more.
Data sends signals, whether standing on its own before us or alongside of its counterparts on a trend line or a scatter diagram.
Data may be objective, though I tend to think not. Data on its own is just data; for it to have meaning requires our engagement of it. How could it be “objective”? Data just is.
Data is birthed in our profound lack of homogeneity (not that “homogeneity” should be a goal). Data is how we sort through the chaos, but it is neither good nor bad in and of itself.
How often have you heard someone insist that you give them the facts, show them the numbers? Of course data is important, but it will not unite us in understanding or resolution. Data only means what we allow. We either engage data or let it slide. Often this means we are living in a world we do not allow ourselves to see. Dialog is replaced by for snipes and barbs and pedantic polemics that accompany them.
Life has to be more, mean more, than our opinion of it, doesn’t it?
Who decides what the facts actually are? Is the desire to claim that authority why we are so data driven? Organizations crave data, especially data that supports their intentions. Many make careers of mining data. We spend far less effort on co-creating an understanding of what all this data means, implies, suggests, insinuates.
Just before my grandfather died, he lifted his hand up towards my face and crooked his forefinger to bring me closer. He opened his mouth slowly. What he told me is private, but I guarantee you he did not spout one last statistic with his final breadth.
Wisdom requires time for experience to do its thing. It is the inexplicable aggregation of ever-changing context with the content of our lives.
Just how wise we become actually depends on what we hope wisdom means – hopefully something good, compelling, just.
Wisdom emerges from the quality of our lives, not from quantifying our largesse and our success.
Sometimes it is short on patience; sometimes wisdom is not kind. But we need it. We need it to help us think about what is right so that we can get on to making it so.