I recently recorded a podcast with Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey on her new show, Wayfinders (watch our Wayfinders chat here). What a joy to speak with such a warm and wise woman☺️ When I asked her what her social legacy was, Dr. Elizabeth replied, “Protecting wisdom.” This makes perfect sense for an anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer. Taking it in, her response made me wonder, “What is my kind of wisdom?” I know I’m not the smartest or most creative person. But what’s served me well is an openness to ask for help. And to recognize that I’ve got a lot of learning and improving to do. So, perhaps my kind of wisdom is wrapped in humble confidence.
We touched on a few topics that helped me solidify my own brand of wisdom, which I shall embrace and carry forward!
1. Wisdom to ask for help.
Dr. Elizabeth observed that mentors have played an important role in my life, and asked how I went about finding mentors. The short answer? I asked for help! We often don’t know what we don’t know, but it’s hard to miss what we’re not good at.
So, I periodically assess what areas I might strengthen, and then look around. Identifying those who seem most adept in these areas, I reach out: “Would you be willing to share your knowledge with me?” People are more willing to help than we expect.
2. Wisdom to raise your hand.
I shared the story behind my first real job. As a high school senior interested in science, I secured a great gig in a biomedical lab. Washing cells and glassware wasn’t sexy, but I was thrilled to have been selected for this college-level internship! Only to realize halfway through the internship, I was given the job because I was the only one who had applied.
Well, there’s a fantastic life lesson: Raise your hand. Volunteer and let your interests be known. Does it matter that you were selected because you were the only applicant? I don’t think so.
3. Wisdom in context.
I grew up surrounded by outstanding peers. In fact, one of my closest childhood friends went on to become one of Asia’s biggest superstars! We attended school and all sorts of extracurriculars together, and Leehom bested me at every one of them. He was more musical, more athletic and did better in school. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get a complex about it, and honestly never resented my friend. Rather, I looked to Leehom as a standard of excellence. It’s humbling to understand that “I’m not the best.” To recognize there’s always someone better than you. And how great is that, to have someone to look up to, and to learn from!
I loved speaking with Dr. Elizabeth. She represents the kind of humble confidence to which we should all aspire. It occurs to me that in our society, humility and confidence can be seen as two ends of a spectrum. Yet, the best leaders are both humble and confident. They are strong in their capabilities, yet know they can do so much more. They know they’re relatively small in a very big world… but they’re confident enough to say “I want to leave as big and as meaningful of a mark as I can with this one little life of mine.” There is wisdom that comes from humble confidence.
For more on wisdom: