Wisdom Explorer™

About Wisdom Explorer

wisdom2Wisdom Explorer™ is a tool used in leadership development and educational settings to promote reflective thought and dialogue in support of wise actions. Each of the 101 cards contains a wisdom quotation about leadership, learning, and life. Wisdom Explorer works by taking wisdom from around the globe and across the ages and putting it into the middle of a creative conversation.

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Wisdom Explorer Introduction

Making a friend of time

Making a friend of time:
A life long learning pilgrimage filled with Mystery

TZiPi, The Vavnik rebbe at Watering the Tree Outside the Fence Foundation

Make a friend of time. A Lakota Medicine man spoke these words to me in 1993.  The energy of the words pierced the armor of my heart. I began to weep and then deep sobs came from my body. I had a sense these words were important and not just for me. I was on a mission of discovery to connect with time.

Several months later my daughter came to visit and asked me why the bedroom, livingroom and car clocks were all different times. I tried to defend my actions and gave up and changed all the clocks to the same time. Her comment awoke me to the relationship of truth and time. And I asked my self, how honest am I with my self & with my friends around time?

I began listening to when ’time’ was used.  I practiced saying ‘end date’ instead of ‘dead line’. I thought of my childhood where I learned my cultural messages around time. I remembered my father raising his voice in anger when he thought we would be late or my mother who insisted on always being early. I still struggle with angst around being at a certain place at a certain time. I became more aware of my rushing when my favorite mug fell out of my hand as I hurried to leave the house.  And I decided that when I drove I had to be in the moment not somewhere else after I pulled into traffic speeding to a meeting and had my front end torn off.

Through my mindfulness and meditation practice I became more comfortable with just being where ever I was. I practiced singing when I thought I was going to be late for an appointment. And I was on time. Now I laugh and breathe more deeply to ease the flow of me in time. In working on my friendship with time, I found being Here can be OK! And I continue to explore the mystery of time and me.

Try these to help you make a friend of time:

  1. Set an intention – deep desire of your heart- to make a friend of time.
  2. Laugh with your Self and say ‘gotcha!” when you notice you have negative thoughts about time, like: ‘I will be late!’, ‘He will kill me!’, ‘Late again!’, ‘I hate time!’ You cannot stop anything without noticing you are doing it.
  3. Breathe deep belly breaths and open your mind to possibilities; what else could you be thinking? or what would you be without that ‘dead line’ thought?
  4. Keep time close, like a good friend and see if you can tell time without looking.
  5. Try laughing when the mind rushes away from HERE; then come back smiling, saying HERE, this is the only place I need to be. And breathe.

Join the Rolling Stones singing “Time Is On My Side’. And hear Scarlett Johansson in the film Lucy saying: “Time is the only true unit of measure. It gives proof to the existence of matter. Without time, we don’t exist.

Share your experiences at rebtzipi.com

Our second most important asset at CCL Ethiopia

Leadership Explorer tools at our office in Ethiopia.

A heartwarming note below from Aaron White, one of the founders of our office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Aaron calls the Leadership Explorer tools “our second most important asset at CCL Ethiopia.” (See the photo at the bottom for the first!) Thanks Aaron!

I spent the day at CCL Ethiopia’s new office here in Addis Ababa. As I explored our new digs I found three new storage cabinets packed with Explorer tools. Some had square corners, some rounded, but all had been in the hands of dozens, if not hundreds of people.

These Explorer tools get used in every single program here. If we didn’t have these – and our Leadership Essentials – we really couldn’t have been successful here.

Thanks to all of you that brought these in your suitcases, stole them from supply closets, and helped create them!

Aaron White
24 November 2017

Our most important assets are our participants and our faculty! More on the Leadership and Debate Club Program here.

Leadership and Debate Club participants and some CCL Addis Faculty. Photo by Rahel Asefa.

Leading From Within

Thanks to my CCL colleague Bert DeCoutere (IP and Innovation Lead at Center for Creative Leadership) for this description of his new experiential design for Leading From Within.

We worked with the central question: How can I continuously evolve into the leader the future needs me to be?

Leading From Within

The flow of the experience is to use what we have inside us to transform into what the future needs us to be.

We used Visual Explorer to discuss “me as a leader now” and “me as a leader in the future.” We explored four roots of our leadership: personality (Work Place Big 5), experience (Experience Explorer), values (Values Explorer) and identity (social identity mapping). Then we concluded the poster with our transformation journey ‘”from here to there” – using cards from the Transformations deck.

Wisdom Explorer in action

Vertical leadership development for a complex world

Horizontal development is about adding more knowledge, skills, and competencies. It’s about what you think.transformations

Vertical development is about the ability to think and act in more complex ways. It’s about how you think. It’s about maturity, and  growing “up” and increasing one’s “depth.” (more…)

Leadership Explorer tools in Leadership at the Peak

Here’s a story of Wisdom Explorer in combination with Visual and Metaphor Explorers, from our colleague Dave Altman. Dave is an early adopter and shaper of the Leadership Explorer™ tool series. Dave is COO at the Center for Creative Leadership.

‘When participants enter the room, they are dazzled with a potpourri of stimuli that gives them a shot of energy and piques their curiosity… ‘


Leadership, Learning, Life

Leadership, Learning, and Life are the three facets of who we are as individuals, as we learn and grow, work and play, take on leadership responsibilities, and live a full life with others. Each Wisdom Explorer™ quote has been selected to represent the wisdom of one or more of these facets. (more…)

Transitioning to the Third Act

Check out the great work of Nick Owen and Edward Kelly in the Third Act Conferences and Retreats!

owenFriday January 20th (1800) – Sunday January 22nd (1530), 2017

The Third Act Retreat: Transitioning to the Third Act
Facilitators: Dr Edward Kelly, Nick Owen & Annette Hennessy
The Abbey, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

A weekend working with our own stories of transition, our stages of development, and the ancient insights of The Elder Tales in our journey to What’s Next for us? A residential weekend of craic and inquiry in a delightful rural setting.

Single: £495; Shared: £445 per person; Non-residential: £395 (including lunches & dinners)

To reserve your place contact nick@nickowen.net or edward@thethirdact.ie



The From Here to There (FHT) Model of Human Development

The From Here to There (FHT) Model frames development as a long-term journey:

FHT model

From Here to There Model applied to a life journey

Starting with:

“Where are you from?”
Origins, identities, communities


“Where are you now (here)?”
Present state, presencing, observation, reflection, assessment


“Where are you going (to there)?”
Toward a desired future state, aspirations, visions, strategies, goals, dreams, and possibilities.


Leadership Culture: A Leadership Essential

From Here to There: The Young African Leader Initiative (YALI)

Sam Ray has just returned from Kenya where he, Kathy Vaughan and Sam Kasera facilitated a final round of  Leadership and Self-Awareness workshops for USAID’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

From Here to There with YALI Leaders

From Here to There with YALI Leaders

Approximately 400 leaders from East and Central Africa have now been through this Center for Creative Leadership workshop (Addis Ababa office) in Nairobi.

The two-day workshop was built around the CCL F-H-T Framework. Every module mapped to a part of their life journey:
a) Where I have come from (FROM)
b) Where I find myself now (HERE)
c) Where my team and I are going (THERE)
d) How I got here (FROM to HERE)
e) How my team and I will get there (HERE to THERE).

Participants mapped their learning on the walls in real time, resulting in 400 unique ‘selfies’ of these young peoples’ leadership journeys. The YALI program has offered rigorous, large-scale testing of the From-Here-To There framework and never fails to generate perspective and insight for users.

The DAC Framework: Creating shared direction, alignment, and commitment

quoteHow would you know if leadership is happening in a team, in a workgroup, on a task force, or across the organization? Look for three important outcomes: direction, alignment and commitment (DAC).

Making Leadership Happen, Cindy McCauley



Dialogue by putting something in the middle

Dialogue is a reflective conversation engaging the multiple perspectives of a number of people to explore assumptions and create new meaning. Create dialogue by putting objects in the middle of amediated conversation. Meaning becomes projected onto the object. Images work very well. You can use photos, art, stories, Visual Explorer and other Explorer tools, mementos, videos, graphics, and so on.

When people get good at this, they don’t need a physical object—they can put a topic (a challenge, a problem, an idea) in the middle.

As the Star Model graphic illustrates, multiple layers of the topic are explored from many angles (multiple perspectives).

Try This (more…)

Leadership Beyond Boundaries and mediated dialogue

Leadership Explorer tools, and especially Visual Explorer, have been key to our Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative, where they work by putting something in the middle of a creative conversation (mediated dialogue):

quoteImagine our world if we worked to create better leadership. Might we have fewer wars, would there be less hunger and disease, would more people recognize their talents and realize their potential, would we solve problems more creatively and effectively, and would we embrace and leverage the diversity that defines humankind? >> read more about Leadership Beyond Boundaries

Integrating Social Media in Youth Leadership Training

This field report is from Nadja Shashe, team member of the CCL Addis Ababa, Ethiopia office and inventor of the Social Media Station.

YV4P 4

quoteA target group within the Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative is youth. To get their attention and create a sustainable outreach, our team in Addis Ababa is integrating social media in youth leadership training programs.

One example of this effort is the Social Media Station that we invented for the Youth Voices for Peace project in Nakuru, Kenya.

social media station (more…)

Wisdom Explorer™ used to open a discussion or introduce a leadership development program

David Magellan Horth writes …

“I did this with a group of students and faculty at Birmingham Southern College.

We were sitting in a circle so that made the beginning of the discussion a little more intimate and safe.

I split a Wisdom Explorer deck in two and passed one half to my left and the other two my right.  Each person was invited to spend only 15 seconds finding a quote that resonated for him or her self.  After everyone had selected a card, they introduced themselves by saying their name, and their affiliation (in this case their field of study or teaching).

Each person read their quote, and said why it resonated for them.

It worked wonderfully and became a rapid yet intimate opening – somewhat like introductions I have where I have used Visual Explorer images in a similar way.”

Three Stages of Wisdom: Dependence, Independence and Interdependence

Three stages of wisdom are expressed in Wisdom Explorer™. These are the stages of human development called dependent, independent, and interdependent (more on this idea here and here). Different kinds of wisdom are appreciated at each stage of one’s life. Each quote in this deck may be interpreted differently at each of the three life stages.

Interdependent wisdom is about the interconnection of everything and the mysteries of existence.

Independent wisdom is about the journey of the self, and the power of personal experience and rational thinking.

Dependent wisdom is about tradition, belonging, power and survival.

Click here for the full set of quotes, authors and codes.

Here are several quotes illustrating dependent wisdom in the realm of leadership:

“Rough waters are truer tests of  leadership. In calm water every ship has a good captain.”
Scandanavian Proverb

“There are no bonds so strong as those which are formed by suffering together.”
Harriet Ann Jacob

And independent wisdom, also with a leadership focus:

“Don’t set sail on someone else’s star.”
African Proverb

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Harriet Tubman

And interdependent wisdom:

“With our short sight we affect to take a comprehensive view of eternity. Our horizon is the universe.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar

“In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Charles Darwin