The Threshold of Wisdom

Bill Abbate
Image by Leonhard Niederwimmer from Pixabay

If you pay attention to what most of the great philosophers of the past have written, you will notice they have one trait in common. It is a trait that led them to much of the wisdom they have shared with humanity. Each of them appeared to know themselves far better than most people of their day or ours. Deep insights into themselves led them to the wisdom so often expressed. This sentiment was captured by an English physician and writer more than a century ago:

“Men who know themselves are no longer fools. They stand on the threshold of the door of wisdom." Havelock Ellis (1859-1939)

There is a great deal of truth to gaining wisdom by knowing ourselves better. Further proof of this is in a short saying almost everyone is familiar with from one of the founders of Western philosophy:

"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates (470-399 BC)

By examining ourselves, we come to know who we are, which allows us to stand at the threshold of the door of wisdom.

Gaining wisdom

Everyone is a quick google search away from the full definition of wisdom today, but rather than look at its meaning, let's look at its acquisition. If you do the three things that follow, you will come to know yourself better and be in a position to cross the threshold of the door of wisdom.


According to the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, wisdom is something we should actively seek:

"Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you." Proverbs 4:7-8 NLT (~950 BC)

By seeking wisdom, we inevitably learn from others. Every person in history who became wise had someone pour into their lives.


To gain understanding requires experience. Experience is acquired as we age.

"The years teach much which the days never know." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Hopefully, the older we get, the better we know ourselves, and the more experience and understanding we build in our lives.

"Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom." Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)


While we can gain all the knowledge in the world, it will not take us to the threshold of the door of wisdom. Only understanding what we have learned provides the key to the door.

"To understand yourself is the key to wisdom." Confucius (551-479 BC)

Through seeking, experiencing, and understanding, you can gain wisdom in your life. Are you curious enough to seek, interested enough to experience, and thoughtful enough to understand what is needed to know yourself better and cross the threshold of the door into wisdom?

Final thoughts

In better knowing yourself through the curiosity of seeking, the exhilaration of experiencing, and the hard work of understanding that underpins it all, you can come to the threshold of the door of wisdom. You now have the key to not only unlock the door but to cross over the threshold.

You will discover one of the most rewarding experiences in life when you come to understand yourself well. Why not begin your self-examination to get to know yourself better? As you do, you can open the door of wisdom wide and cross over the threshold. It will be one of the best decisions of your life!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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