The 7th Hat for Wisdom

In question time at a youth convention I was asked to add one more hat to the original ‘6 thinking hats’ developed by SOT in 1983. I have designed the 7th Hat for Wisdom which is the Grey Thinking Hat. Of all the original 6 Thinking Hats–White, Black, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue–the Grey Hat is the only one that cannot be taught. It has to be acquired. The Grey Hat is also the Senior Hat.

(Master Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Grey Hat, Paris, 1887)

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EXPERIENCE + KNOWLEDGE = WISDOM

wisdom n. experience and knowledge together
with the power of applying them critically or practically
Oxford English Dictionary

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FROM BLACK TO GREY

is all about the escape

from judgmental thinking to wisdom.


Survival is clever and requires intelligence. Long term survival endows wisdom and this is a very clever thing, indeed. From the hard-won accomplishment of longevity emerges broad experience and special knowledge. It cannot be taught. It also offers a deep appreciation of the role that sheer random luck plays in long term survival.

My father was one of the wisest people I have ever known. He had a great deal of experience. In WWII he had served and survived in two theatres of war. He received a classical education, was widely read and had a great deal of knowledge and common sense. He was also very lucky. He survived bowel cancer, completely, and other narrow escapes. He’s used to say, “Nobody’s perfect”. How right he was!

The Grey Thinking Hat is for Wisdom.The experience of surviving for a complete generation through childhood, adolescence and adulthood endows knowledge and perspective that a young brain simply cannot match.

To achieve 50 years of survival, through two or more generations, allows the brain to build a database of experience which offers a perspective of history, an understanding of long term consequences, a faculty for prediction and a wisdom that cannot be acquired in any other way. It takes half a century.