The Sage’s Approach

Sages are often seen as wise but they do not see themselves this way. They see themselves as lifetime students. They learn from eternal wisdom and also study humanity at its best.

Such people see the big picture yet are also practical. They are soul-wise and savvy. They move from the concept to the concrete and give examples that bring things to life.

Such a person may start off by being a student and then a worker. Aiming to pass on knowledge, they may become a teacher. Then comes the most dangerous phase. They may want to become a guru. Sometimes they move on, however, and become a sage.

Sages often have a sense of perspective. There have been billions of people before them and there will be billions after them. All they can do is try to contribute to life during their time on the planet.

Such people often balance characteristics that appear to be opposites. They balance serenity with steel. They can be calm yet also display massive commitment.

Some sages seem to be skipping with joy and yet can also be serious. They can sometimes be a bit mischievous and have a generous sense of humour.

Different people take different journeys towards becoming sage-like. As mentioned earlier, some individuals go through the stages of student, worker, teacher, guru and then sage.

Some people go through all these stages, some skip from one to another, some take a different route. Let’s explore these steps.


Sages often start as students. They focus on something they want to learn and become fascinated by the subject. They may want to learn about people, spiritual faiths, science, art or another topic.

Such people throw themselves into the learning process. Gathering as much information as possible, they look for patterns and begin to make sense of what they are learning. They may also begin to develop their own models for understanding experience.

A person may try many different kinds of work, visit various cultures or test themselves by tackling specific challenges. They learn from the experiences and begin to settle on specific activity.


A person may then concentrate on an activity that gives them positive energy. They may still want to explore many fields, but they decide to focus on a deeply satisfying activity.

They may do many jobs in their chosen activity but then develop their specialism. They may become a subject matter expert, project director, coordinator, leader, prototype builder or develop another role. This can lead to them aiming to make a specific contribution.


Some people move into the role of being an educator, teacher, coach or mentor. Some take this step in a proactive way.

Some find themselves being asked to share their knowledge with other people. Different people choose different ways to take this step. Some choose to build on their strengths and aim:

To clarify the specific knowledge they want to pass on to people;

To clarify the kinds of people who might be open to such knowledge;

To clarify the best ways for them to pass on this knowledge.

They share the knowledge in a way that plays to their strengths. This may involve working face-to-face with people, writing, making films or using another media. Some people remain humble when taking this route. Some choose to take another role.


A person may be seen as a guru, but this can be a dangerous phase. They may think they have mastered something. Some talk about what they see as their personal brand rather than on serving others. Some people choose to follow another route.


Gurus want followers but a sage wants to give things away. They have wisdom in their bones and make complicated things simple. As mentioned earlier, the sage’s journey is full of paradoxes.

Once somebody thinks they are wise, they automatically aren’t. Once they think they are a sage, they are in dangerous territory. It is vital to remind themselves that they will always be a student.

Sages are sometimes approached by people who want to explore certain themes. When appropriate, sages then pass on knowledge that people can use in their own ways.

Here is an introduction to one approach that sages take in such situations. This mirrors some of the principles followed by mentors.

Sages start by creating a stimulating sanctuary in which a person feels at ease. They make the person feel welcome and clarify what they want to explore.

Focusing on the first theme the person wants to explore, they clarify the real results the person wants to achieve. They clarify the person’s picture of success.

They aim to support the person. Different sages do this in different ways. Then, at some point, they will ask if it is okay for them to share some ideas.

Sages then share knowledge, positive models and practical tools that the person can use in their own way. They bring the ideas to life by giving practical examples that resonate with the person.

Checking which ideas resonate with the person, they explore these further. If appropriate, they move on to how the person wants to apply these to achieve their picture of success.

Sages return to the person’s agenda and the next theme the person wants to explore. They repeat the process and share knowledge that the person can use in their own way.

They may conclude the session by giving the person chance to reflect on what they have learned or relearned. When appropriate, sages continue to provide support and help the person to achieve their picture of success.

Let’s return to your own life and work. If appropriate, how can you follow some elements of the sage approach in your own way? How can you continue to remind yourself that you will always be a student?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentence.

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