What are you paid to do?

What do you believe you are paid to do?

What does your employer tell you that you are paid to do?

What does your spouse believe that you are paid to do?

What does your family believe that you are paid to do?

What does your supervisor believe you are paid to do?

The systems at work, in the community, and even in the home are structured around the unstated, often unvocalized, answers to these critical questions.

It used to be that larger institutions defined these answers with clarity and provided a sense of reassurance about the answers.

It used to be that people either appealed to the authority of these institutions when their fellow travelers weren’t answering them in pre-approved ways, or when the answers seemed to be getting cloudy for everyone on the team.

It used to be that social norming and group think really kicked in on the answers to these questions, making the answer seem “obvious” and “normal.” So much so, that to even ask the questions out loud would have seemed foolish and blind.

Maybe even rebellious.

But now, with the erosions of power, with authority getting its bluff called everywhere, and with conflict and incivility on the rise because of increased role confusion, asking the questions above—and getting coherent answers to them—for yourself, is the beginning of attaining true wisdom.

Not wisdom based in learning what other people have experienced and then dealing with it, but wisdom based on knowing yourself thoroughly, first.

Not wisdom based in reassurance—because there will never be enough of that—but wisdom based in courage, candor, and clarity.

And then having the courage to ask—and to guide—others through answering the tough questions.