Who is wise? The person who learns from everyone is the general description given by not only the Bible but also other religions and philosophers.
Psalms 119:99 states: “From all those who taught me I gained understanding.”
At the simplest level, the person who seeks wisdom is the one most likely to acquire it. If the person is not so wrapped up in his or her own reputation as a learned, wise person and seek knowledge from others who have fewer degrees or education is wise in the seeking.
The Talmud states that the Torah student who can humiliate himself before others so as to understand the Torah, or by asking questions he/she might feel stupid, will be elevated, eventually, on account of Torah knowledge (Brachos 63b).
Why is it so important to learn from everyone rather than immersing oneself in books and influential professors? Is it not true that everyone has a different perspective, a different life story, their own unique personality and to understand your own perspective it is necessary to listen to what others also believe? This is how you begin to sort out who you are or which direction you would like to start your search; which road you may wish to travel; which spiritual movement you might wish to immerse yourself.
In my search to define wisdom by listening to different age groups answer questions about their life, perhaps the conclusion will still be the same. A person is wise who learns from everyone.
However, is there more? Have we missed critical elements or steps that a person goes through to reach the highest state of being; the hoary head of wisdom?
As a jumping off point, consider Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her groundbreaking work On Death and Dying. By defining the stages most persons go through, we all came to a clearer understanding of our feelings at different stages. We also learned that it is not necessary to go through all the stages or to repeat some of the stages. However, this knowledge helped the world to understand the grieving process.
Likewise, could we not help the world if there were stages of growing into wisdom that could be identified? I think so.