The Three Integral Growth Elements- Knowledge, Experience, and Wisdom

“The Three Integral Growth Elements: Knowledge, Experience, and Wisdom”


Pine-Richland kicked off the New Year by having Mr. Al O’Neil speak to our members. After working for Westinghouse and Curtiss-Wright, he retired with 50 years of experience in the world of business. From working with Fortune 500 companies to being an instructor in the business department at local colleges, Mr. O’Neil has gained much insight on leadership from his working experience. A proud graduate of Youngstown State University and The University of Pittsburgh, Mr. O'Neil also shared some advice to our members on how to kickstart their careers during and after college. His life motto is to always be kind to people, and feels that he has been truly blessed with the opportunities that he experienced during his time working in the business field.

Mr. O’Neil kicked off his presentation with a few of the tips and tricks that he learned over the years that helped him grow as an employee in the workforce. He suggested to our members that you need to set goals for yourself, but you do not necessarily have to bind yourself to them. You can always modify your goals as you grow and your interests and needs change over time. He also shared the advice to never be reluctant to ask for help. He would always tell his interns, “Don’t expect other people to do your work for you, but people do like to be asked for advice.” Even as an employee himself, Mr. O’Neil learned that asking for advice makes you a stronger worker and more personable in the workplace. Lastly, he reminded our members to treat our mistakes as lessons. We must learn from our mistakes in order to grow from them. Dwelling on your mistakes will get you nowhere.

            Just like the three most important facets of real estate, Mr. O’Neil modified the phrase “location, location, location” to “read, read, read.” He always would advise his interns to read to become more worldly. He brought up the great point that reading can help you find your interests and that it is important to know what is happening in the world. Mr. O’Neil stated that he found out early in his career that you can impress people with your knowledge, and broadening your horizons of knowledge can help you build new conversations with your coworkers. Reading whatever you can- editorials, opinions, books, articles, is a good habit to develop.

            Mr. O’Neil then touched upon his three integral growth elements of growing character- knowledge, experience and wisdom. Knowledge is the range of a person’s understanding, the sum of what a person knows, and the familiarity one gains through experience. We all have different bases of knowledge, which is what makes each of us unique. He used the idea of knowledge to prove that you should not define yourself by your “rank,” meaning that we all are capable of getting to where we want to be at some point. Mr. O’Neil shared the story of Custer’s Last Stand because he was a hero in the civil war, yet he graduated last in his class. Mr. O’Neil used this story to prove the point that it is what you do with your knowledge that matters, not how your knowledge ranks among your peers.

            The basis of knowledge is experience, which is crucial when putting a resume together. We all have different forms and types of experiences, and we all gain knowledge from these experiences. Having experience shows what you have done and learned through the opportunities you have had.

            Mr. O’Neil stated that wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities. As a leader, it is vital to have good insight, sense, and judgement. He brought up the point that a leader can be extremely intelligent in a specific field, but have no sense and judgement in terms of leading others. Having wisdom is important because it allows you to have the ability to reach intelligent conclusions and choose between what will happen compared to what might happen. Usually wisdom is thought to correlate with age, so Mr. O'Neil told our members that your own wisdom will come with time, experience, and knowledge.

            To wrap up his presentation, Mr. O’Neil shared with our members that internships can boost your career. Usually, if it's a good fit, companies will end up hiring interns, which is a great way to start a career. He advised us to take internships, and companies that offer internships are good to keep in mind when trying to kickstart your career.



Thank you Mr. O’Neil for taking the time to share your insights with the members of Pine-Richland FBLA.                                         

Payton McGee, Reporter