Keys, Insights & Observations

○ ○ ○Learning From Examples Of Bad Judgment

MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS | 2013 EDITION | VOLUME 19

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I read about a 42-year-old man a few weeks ago who got hit by a truck while on a quest to dribble his way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. His name was Richard Swanson and he was raising money for his charity One World Futbol Project, which donates football to enthusiasts in poor countries.


I was extremely busy that day. But despite the sadness about his loss, my other reaction was: "I" wish I had time for that.

Problem is, if I did, I wouldn't go about such a noble endeavor the (let's be honest) reckless way he did. After all, there's a reason billionaires and millionaires keep signing on to The Gates Foundation and pledge a huge chunk of their fortune. [UPDATE]

Then there's privileged Otto Warmbier. A young man with a name that conjures up images of cold and warm beer. Arrested and sentenced in North Korea for stupid things done, while on tour no less. The latest reminder of America's serious “affluenza” problem.

Who in their right mind has the luxury to go on tour in the DPRK, get drunk, then go stealing in the world's most policed state, with CCTV everywhere?

Ask a Katrina victim. I say:

Only a privileged and ignorant American.

Then also, Gawker. Willing to go bankrupt over a sex tape it feels entitled. It's chosen adversary, Hulk Hogan. Subsequently and rightly awarded millions in compensation.

All that plus, oddly enough, Patrick Gray's joke on a podcast episode of Risky Business hours prior regarding someone else's death being “funny”, got me pondering.

That was, until Charles Kettering's assertion that “You can be sincere and still be stupid” struck me. And to be honest, I was embarrassed I hadn't sufficiently imbibed that axiom in a way that verifiably proves I really really get it.

Whether in business or casual circles, stupidity is all around.

Because good judgment, like extraordinary execution-focused leadership, recognizes that some ideas are better, and therefore worth pursuing. While others simply aren't worth either the effort or risk involved.

Further, discernment based on, and informed by current risks, options, process, readiness and power calculus as well as values, vision, purpose, mission, realities on the ground and impact desired, are all bases for good decision-making.

Take Steve Jobs for instance.

Like Bill Gates, he remains my mentor. Like me, he's known for not suffering fools gladly and particularly ruthless toward those who double-cross him. And yet, despite all that, I'll take Gates' approach any given day (whenever and wherever maturity prevails).

And that is a personal challenge. Because all you have to do is sit back and watch how Gates conducts himself on the twittersphere and wider webosphere.

He's consistently stays above the fray. His posts are consistently about progress, ideas and challenges related to his Foundation and Human Development initiatives.

And Seth Godin included, what highly judicious people have in common, and continue to teach me is: they get more done and have greater impact because they expend little energy on small-minded people issues. They dedicate more of their time (a scarce resource) to advancing and acting on big ideas.

Over to you, Seth...

On Teaching People a Lesson: You're actually not teaching them a lesson, because the people who most need to learn a lesson haven't, and won't. What you're actually doing is diverting yourself from your path as well as ruining your day in a quixotic quest for fairness, fairness you're unlikely to find.

Sure, you can shut someone down, excoriate them, sue them or refuse to let them win, but odds are they're just going to go try their game on someone else.

When you fire a customer and politely ask them to move on, you are withdrawing yourself from their trollish dance. When, instead, you focus on the good student, the worthwhile investor, the delighted vendor, you improve things for both of you. The sooner you get back to work (your work), the sooner you can move toward your best outcome, which is achieving what you set out to achieve in the first place.

The real tragedy of the person who dumps on you is that you pay twice. The second time is when you get bent out of shape trying to get even.

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