All Articles Leadership Careers Wisdom -- or the art of knowing which hills to die on

Wisdom — or the art of knowing which hills to die on

2 min read


SmartBrief is partnering with Big Think to create a weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called “VIP Corner: Video Insights Powered by Big Think.” This week, we’re featuring futurist Edie Weiner.

Smarts, intelligence and wisdom are distinct qualities, each important and useful but not necessarily found together, says Edie Weiner, a futurist who is president of consultancy Weiner, Edrich, Brown Inc. Smart is becoming obsolete, she says, because being book-smart is in a losing competition with computing power. Being intelligent means leveraging your knowledge to make connections where there isn’t a formulaic answer.

However, it’s wisdom that’s most important for ascending the leadership ladder, especially for women, who face the exhausting dilemma of having to speak up, but not doing so too much lest they get tuned out. “Wisdom is knowing what to say to whom, when and under what circumstances, and for what purpose. … What’s in question is how do we rein ourselves in from asking all of this, or demanding all of this, or wanting all of this,” Weiner says.

Leaders know that they can’t know every detail, do everyone’s job for them or persuade every customer. Wisdom plays a role in knowing what is worth tackling and what isn’t. The same holds true for which battles to fight, and Weiner emphasizes the importance of that lesson for women leaders.

“[I]t’s very weary to constantly ask yourself, is this the hill I want to die on? And you have to ask yourself that question. Otherwise you just become the person who keeps raising the issue again and again.”

Big Think is a forum in which top experts explore big ideas and core skills defining the 21st century. Learn more from its editors, fellows and guest speakers.