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Leo Tolstoy once wrote a short story about a king who was certain that if he knew the best time to act, the right people to do business with and the most important thing to do at all times, then he would never fail in any task that he took on.

He proclaimed to the kingdom that he would richly reward anyone who could give him the answers to each of these questions.

Many wise men came to him with proposed answers, but they all differed and the king wasn’t satisfied with any of them, so the reward went unclaimed.

Eventually, the king decided to seek out a hermit who was renowned for his unparalleled wisdom.

He knew that the wise hermit only met with common folk, so he dressed himself in ordinary clothes, left his bodyguards behind, dismounted from his royal horse and went to see him alone.

The king sat down with the hermit and asked his three questions:

  • When is the best time to act?
  • Who is the most important person?
  • What is the most important thing to do?

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~ Robbie Coltrane ~ Horned Owl from the Owl Fe...

Image via Wikipedia

According to tradition, owls are considered to be the wisest of all birds.

Their large eyes give the impression of intelligence, so they are often depicted in stories as wise and knowledgeable.

Personally, I think that they are magnificent animals and there are few more impressive sights than an owl in its natural habitat.

But are they really wise?

I’m not sure if they are from an IQ perspective, but I think that there are a few principles of wisdom that we can learn from owls.

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Rabbit-munching-on-carrot (Closeup)

Image via Wikipedia

There were once two rabbits, Wanda the Wise and Frederick the Foolish, who were walking through a field.

They were good friends and enjoyed their strolls together.

On this walk, they came upon two carrots.  One of the carrots had large leaves sprouting out of the top and the other looked much smaller from the surface.

Frederick was excited and ran up to the carrot with the larger leaves.

“I’ll have this one,” he proudly exclaimed and proceeded to extract it from the ground.

Wanda shrugged her shoulders and pulled out the other carrot, which turned out to be much bigger.

Frederick was surprised and asked how this could possibly be.

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You don’t get wisdom by reading great books or blogs.

You don’t get wisdom by spending time with an amazing mentor.

You don’t get wisdom by attending conferences with the best motivational speakers.

You don’t get wisdom by going to university or night school.

You don’t get wisdom by observing those who are the leaders in your field.

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There’s a story about a farmer many years ago who owned a horse.

He wasn’t a rich man and his horse was his most prized possession.

One day he woke up to find that his horse was missing.

The other men in the village came to visit and commiserate with him.  “What terrible luck, losing your prized horse.”

“Was it terrible luck?  Let’s just wait and see, it’s still too early to tell.”  the farmer responded.

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