Knowing Yourself is True Wisdom; Mastering Yourself is True Power

I’m writing to you from the New York Public Library and have a confession to make. As a native New Yorker, I’ve walked past this international treasure hundreds of times and never stepped foot inside before today. Part museum, part creative working space, and part library (to the tune of more than 54 million books), The New York Public Library is an architectural embodiment of wisdom.

Perhaps because I am having anticipatory thoughts related to the annual transition from one year to the next, being inside this historic landmark provides me with a sense of deep peace that I’ve been craving during this chaotic time. Feeling grounded here comes from being in the home of thousands of years of wisdom. As I transition into a new year, I’m trying to absorb the best of 2023, filter the knowledge gained and bring the wisdom into 2024. I do this ritual every year to continue to grow and cultivate the elements that enable me to be the best version of myself.

Reading this might make you think I’ve been drawn to ancient, religious or scholarly texts. Au contraire! What inspired me most was the Winnie the Pooh exhibit at the library—not just the books but the characters that made up the classic Winnie the Pooh stories that A.A. Milne wrote for his son Christopher Robin. The exhibit seemed to convey the wisdom of The Tao of Pooh.

One of my favorite quotes from The Tao of Pooh:

Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.

⎯ The Tao of Pooh

As I look towards a new year with anticipation and, let’s face it, enthusiasm peppered with some trepidation, I’m reminded that a well-lived life comes from knowing oneself first. From calling up the wisdom that lives inside each of us and has its own signature. Only once we understand and relate to ourselves can we use our innate intelligence to work with others and open our hearts and souls to the potential for future decades of joy, vitality, purpose, and impact.

My profound experience admiring the stories behind a series of stuffed animals is an offshoot of why looking through the lens of the art world is so important in our lives. I love the concept of curation and invite you to consider the following:

What if you approached the creation of your greatest opus—your next chapter—with the same humble convictions and wisdom that A.A. Milne brought to the world?


  • Barbara Waxman

    Leadership Coach, Gerontologist, Life Stage Expert, Angel Investor

    Barbara Waxman, founder of The Odyssey Group, is a highly sought-after longevity and leadership advocate, advisor, coach, speaker and author. Barbara translates cutting-edge research and collective wisdom in ways that enable others to understand how the dynamics of our aging world impact individuals, communities, companies, and the planet. Barbara's leadership as a gerontologist in the coaching field has culminated in the transformative coaching model Entrepreneurship Turned Inward™️ (ETI), the evidence informed Seven Lifestyle Levers Assessment™️ and the Longevity Roadmap™️.  Barbara is an Advisor to the Stanford Center on Longevity, Stanford Lifestyle Medicine and is a faculty member at Chip Conley's Modern Elder Academy.    Website:  LinkedIn:  Instagram:  Facebook: