Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 27;   July 3, 2002: Your Wisdom Box

Your Wisdom Box

by

When we make a difficult decision, we sometimes know we've made the wrong choice, even before the consequences become obvious. At other times, we can be absolutely certain that we've done right, even in the face of inadequate information. When we have these feelings, we're in touch with our inner wisdom. It's a powerful resource.

Once, when I was a student, I went to dinner with four friends. I drove. Tooling down the freeway at my customary speed (a little too fast), I suddenly realized, "Hey, I've got four people in the car with me. Maybe I better slow down." So I did.

A wooden chest

Alfred Harrell. Wooden Chest, photograph, October 1980. Retrieved from the U.S. Library of Congress, February 25, 2018.

Almost immediately, around a tight turn in the road, an accident-in-progress came into view. I slowed sharply, and threaded my way through the wrecks that were occurring all around us. Somehow we got through, and I pulled over to calm down and recover my wits. A multi-car pile-up now blocked all lanes behind us — ours was the last vehicle to get through it unscathed.

My inner wisdom was talking to me that night, saying "Slow down!" And yours talks to you, more often than you know.

Have you ever made a decision and then immediately afterwards, have you instantly known that it was a mistake? Or have you ever made a decision with inadequate information, and at the same time, have you been absolutely certain that you were doing the right thing?

Have you ever had
a strong feeling that
you might have just made
a mistake? Your Wisdom
Box was talking to you
If these things have happened to you, then you know how to contact your inner wisdom. Your "Wisdom Box," as Virginia Satir used to call it, is a source of knowledge about how the world works. We all have Wisdom Boxes. What's in your Wisdom Box is uniquely yours, and it's part of what makes you uniquely you.

Here are some typical Wisdom Box interactions:

  • When you think, "I knew I shouldn't have done that," you could be remembering what your Wisdom Box told you earlier.
  • When you think, "I know I shouldn't do this, but…" you could be in the midst of rejecting what your Wisdom Box is telling you.
  • When you have the feeling, "I know that the right thing to do is <something>, but I'm scared (or worried, or unsure)," then you could be hearing from your Wisdom Box. You already know what you need to do — all you need is the Courage to do it.
  • When you think, "I have to" or "I have no choice," you've lost touch with your Wisdom Box. There are always choices.

Get in touch with your Wisdom Box. Open it up now and then — oil the hinges of its lid, so it opens easily and smoothly. Find out what's in there already, and add things from time to time. Consult it when you're making decisions, and when it tells you to slow down, slow down. Go to top Top  Next issue: Doorknob Disclosures and Bye-Bye Bombshells  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenoWRoaNtpgBXxXJuSner@ChacJAsrkTNKKKpvfrFAoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Ethics at Work:

Power poles after Hurricane Rita, 2005Email Ethics
Ethics is the system of right and wrong that forms the foundation of civil society. Yet, when a new technology arrives, explicitly extending the ethical code seems necessary — no matter how civil the society. And so it is with email.
A harrow in actionWhen Others Curry Favor
When peers curry favor with the boss, many of us feel contempt, an urge for revenge, anger, or worse. Trying to stop those who curry favor probably isn't an effective strategy. What is?
A thiefLooking the Other Way
Sometimes when we notice wrongdoing, and we aren't directly involved, we don't report it, and we don't intervene. We look the other way. Typically, we do this to avoid the risks of making a report. But looking the other way is also risky. What are the risks of looking the other way?
Representative Sam Graves, Republican of MissouriOn the Appearance of Impropriety
Avoiding the appearance of impropriety is a frequent basis of business decisions. What does this mean, what are the consequences of such avoiding, and when is it an appropriate choice?
The Garden Tiger moth, Arctia cajaTelephonic Deceptions: I
People have been deceiving each other at work since the invention of work. Nowadays, with telephones ever-present, telephonic deceptions are becoming more creative. Here's Part I of a handy guide for telephonic self-defense.

See also Ethics at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Office equipment — or is it office toys?Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
Tim Murphy, official photo for the 112th CongressAnd on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenliYxzQIITHRxGOBkner@ChacreYzEeFTaRtMPviboCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
Reader Comments About My Newsletter
A sampling:
  • Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
  • You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
  • I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
  • A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
  • …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.
  • More
52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented OrganizationsAre your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around.
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.
Comprehensive collection of all e-books and e-bookletsSave a bundle and even more important save time! Order the Combo Package and download all ebooks and tips books at once.