Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lessons from Foolishness

If I ever compile the lessons I've drawn from years of blunders, the multi-volumed work will include the following:

Beware of apples and oranges. False comparisons rest at the heart of most fallacious arguments. A great many of the examples assembled to support a point are not the same.

Do not underestimate the role of fatigue. Basic rule: when you are tired, you will make mistakes. Get some serious sleep.

Avoid vexatious people. This comes from a line in Desiderata and it is dead-on. The haters and trolls are not worth your time.

Slow down to appreciate the nature of your work and to enhance its quality. It is far more refreshing to be a craftsman than an assembly line worker.

Read a wide range of opinions and especially seek out those in disagreement with your beliefs. See if you can find something worthwhile in their reasoning.

Lower your expectations. If you expect others to be angels they will disappoint you. You should also have reasonable expectations for yourself.

Don't keep score as to who gets what. If you do, you'll frequently conclude that you were shortchanged.

Beware of what your job is doing to you. More people worry about what they eat in the morning than where they go in the morning. Consider whether your job is building you or destroying you.

Don't believe in magical solutions. We dream of elevators while trudging up stairs. We need to enjoy the climb, realize that we've arrived at the right floor, or move to another building.


Jeff said...

At nearly 3 score years myself, and heading towards the sunset, I've also learned many of these lessons. Youth may be wasted on the young, but so are these words of wisdom. Unfortunately the rear view mirror seems to be our best teacher.
One exception though - lowering expectations. I've never been able to do that. Not of people, not of organizations. I still push for the best out of the situation or the fabric of the group I'm working with. The one motto I still live by is "aim high and that's where you'll fly".
Rather than being disappointed, it just spurs me on to keep trying. :)

Wally Bock said...

Another marvelous post, Michael. The post on fatigue is especially helpful because we hear don't it often. Vince Lombardi said that "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Science tells us that fatigue also chops points off our IQ and makes us careless.

Michael Wade said...

Thanks to both of you.

I still strive for high quality but have found that many people and organizations have other priorities and so I don't expect it. When it arrives, the impact is like finding a $100 bill.

The fatigue factor deserves a lot more attention. You'll see some groups of very bright people who slip into trouble because they're just worn out.

Csaba said...

Thank you for these awesome insights Michael. I've been following your blog for a few months now and you are among the nine bloggers I read every day. I'm writing a book for young people (like myself :)) ) about success and excellence - definitely expect an online interview on that topic in the near future! :))

And I love your lesson on slowing down to appretiate one's work - I've just started doing that and it has already made a huge difference both at home and at work!