None of us likes to be thought a fool, but fools we are. Hang with me on this one. I end with a constructively positive challenge, but getting there means we have to first wade through some, well… Foolishness.
We all know people who are generally fools. It seemingly is a habit they cannot break. We also know people (Including ourselves) who occasionally do foolish things. So, a gathering of fools is not an elite club, but rather a quite crowded room. Before you declare yourself free from the taint of foolishness, quickly consider the types of fools:
Rash fool – Plunges ahead without taking time to consider the costs or potential consequences of their actions. It is surprising even among supposedly smart business people how often this happens.
Lazy fool – Fails to musters the energy to observe and learn from the world around them, the actions of others, or their own life experience. Neglects to prepare for the future.
Undisciplined fool – Lacks the will to consistently act in accordance with wisdom
Stubborn fool – Refuses to adapt to changes in the world around them or knows the proper action in a particular situation but refuses to act on what they know is the prudent course of action
Intentional fool – Knows the proper action in a particular situation, but refuses to act accordingly, or, even worse, purposefully chooses to act in contradiction to prudent course of action
Stupid fool – Steadfastly ignorant, lazy, undisciplined, rash and stubborn. This combination is especially deadly.
Ignorant fool – Lastly, even if we are knowledgeable, disciplined, and prudent, we may yet act foolishly out of ignorance. No one person can possibly know everything; so at times our ignorance in certain areas leads to foolish actions. Nonetheless, our good intentions do not shield us from the consequences of our ignorance.
So, how does one minimize the self-inflicted damage of our own foolishness?
- Seek after knowledge and wisdom. No, they are not the same. Knowledge involves an acquaintance with facts or principles where wisdom adds the element of discernment that knows when, where and how to apply those facts and principles to achieve the best outcome for everyone involved in or impacted by a particular situation.
- Cultivate a heart of gratitude that leads to humility. See “Antidote to Pride” for more on this subject.
- Surround oneself with people whose knowledge complements our own gaps.
- Spend our time with people whose character inspires us to avoid rash, lazy or undisciplined behavior.
- Practice prudence. I love that word. Webster’s dictionary explains prudence as “wise or judicious in practical affairs; discrete or circumspect; sober; careful in providing for the future.”