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Ian O'Byrne

Some days are diamonds Some days are rocks Some doors are open Some roads are blocked - Tom Petty In this week's issue of TL;DR. Find out more at #persistence

Ian O'Byrne

Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance

2 min read

In our daily interactions, we often try to consider what elements combine to create real "wisdom." The challenge is that wisdom is really a mental construct. That is to say that it is something that exists only in our minds. Other constructs include motivation, creativity, and intelligence.

Mental constructs are hard to consider, yet we know that they are there. We primarily understand and accept them through outward behaviors and our actions. 

The following quote from Robert Thurman tries to help crystalize exact what constitutes true wisdom.

Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance.

One of the reasons I love this quote is the inclusion of the term "cognitive dissonance." Cognitive dissonance is the stress or imbalance that occurs mentally when we try to hold two competing thoughts in our mind. True learning occurs when there is this imbalance in our mind and actions.

An example of cognitive dissonance would be a person that considers themselves to be environmentally friendly, yet they drive a vehicle that does not have good gas mileage.

A lower level example of this would be regularly cooking with specific tools and methods, and then trying to cook food from a different region. Imagine regularly cooking pasta, and then trying to cook some Vietnamese food with a wok and unfamiliar ingredients.



In Thurman's quote, he suggest that true wisdom comes from this imbalance or stress that occurs as we learn new things. It is in this discomfort, in these attempts to learn and struggle that we achieve true wisdom. 


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Ian O'Byrne

March 22, 2016

2 min read

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. - Paul Hawken

Near the end of my time at UNH, I was increasingly interested in leadership, and what qualitiies and interactions go into creating a worthwhile leader. 

I focused on the leadership of individuals around me that were successful and had some challenges in effectively communicating, positivity, and being transparent with others. I continue to think about leadership, and my ability to lead. 

I am an ideas person, and can come up with worthwhile projects and initiaitves to advance the field and systems. I can work with people to get those initiaitves kickstarted and get things rolling. Where I struggle is when the newness wears off, and people's jobs get in the way, how do we keep things advancing?

The quote above about problem solving, and collaboration only goes so far to address the challenges. There is also the problem that exists with communication, clarity in goals, and "calling people out" when they don't live up to expectations. 

This can prove to be a problem when not working for money, or paying someone. In a volunteer capacity, it can be tough to hire/fire/motivate others. It's also hard to bring in volunteers and get them to buy in, and want to collaboratively solve that problem.

For now, I'll work harder to lead the way, and hopefully bring on others.