Intellect vs insight

In a world that focuses so much on gathering intelligence (other people’s wisdom), many of us have lost sight of our own insight.

And, whilst there is a place for both – our inner guidance system, our personal wisdom is the one, that in my experience, always serves us best.

In the days when I used to coach senior leaders there were, on occasions, attempts by potential clients to play the ‘mines bigger than yours’ game.

They would start by telling me what degrees they had from which universities, how quickly they progressed up the career ladder, their amazing lifestyles and all the wonderous opportunities that they had before them now. I would respond by telling them I was the daughter of a hairdresser and got my degree from Coventry Poly.

Assuming they didn’t ask me to leave at this point, I then asked them to reflect on whether they believed they would find the answers they were seeking from intellectual knowledge or insight.

If they wanted more ‘intellect’ on how to lead I could suggest a ton of books. If they wanted more advice on how to improve their relationships – again I could hook them up with advice givers.

If on the other hand they wanted to get quiet, get connected and find their path back to them – then I was their girl. At this point the dynamic of the conversation invariably changed. The client started to breath and the work began. My passionate wish is that we could create a world, an education system, that instead of taking us away from our insight takes us towards it.

The word education derives from the Greek word Edukos – it means to ‘draw forth from within’. 

Let’s just take a moment to think about that. Now let’s think about the education system we have right now where students spend years having information pushed into them just to regurgitate it over a few hours in and exam and then get on with their lives.

But is corporate education much different? Groups of people in a room having the values of the firm pushed into them – being told about the leadership behaviours and what is expected.

What about their values? What about the kind of leader they were born to be – creative perhaps, strategic maybe, a tech guru… how about we take a lesson from the Greeks and begin spending a bit more time drawing from within?

It’s time we put human development at the heart of education, to allow young people to learn deeply about themselves and what kind of life they want to create. If you agree, then we would love to talk to you.

By Elke Edwards, Ivy House London
29th June 2021

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