Debunking Some Old Saws …


Spanking - Germany 1935 WikipediaFeeling a little like playing the “Devil’s Advocate” today with some old wisdom learned at my parent’s feet … or on occasion, across their lap.

Never Bite Off More Than You Can Chew …

The positive message here is that we need be careful about what we commit to and not over-extend ourselves.  Wise counsel in this modern age.

However, this advice is also predicated on the assumption that if you take on more than you have been able to do in the past or think you can handle, you will fail.   This seems to conflict with the idea of stretch goals, where we do exactly that by taking on tasks or responsibilities beyond our current capabilities.

The saying runs contrary to at least some of my life experiences and I suspect others will agree … we truly do not know what we are capable of doing until we try.

Don’t Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth …

I am not looking ANY horse in the mouth … been there, done that, almost lost a finger or two:).

That said, the message from this horse’s mouth is that when you receive something without having to pay for it, that gratitude is the proper response, rather than criticism of any less-than-perfect aspects of that gift.

This applies beautifully to all those who continue to post their personal declarations of privacy on social media sites like Facebook, which includes some of my oldest and dearest friends.  When one is using a public website without charge, one cannot arrange the rules to suit themselves.  I prefer the meme:  “If it should not be public, do not share it.”

But let me pose this question:  Do we abandon all responsibility when something is a gift?  

While I can assume that the cake my sainted mother lovingly baked for my birthday is not poisonous, I would be remiss if I ignored or discounted any obvious signs to the contrary.   When you give your children a new bicycle, you would be upset if they did not let know you immediately of an unsafe condition connected to that new bike, such as faulty brakes or loose handlebars.

Hmmm …

Measure Twice, Cut Once …

I bet this inclusion surprises some of you, since it seems so useful.  I have often experienced the negative outcomes of rework, lost time, wasted materials, and so on, when ignoring this piece of advice.   Maybe you have too.

At first glance, making sure you are doing something right to the right length, in the right measure would seem a wisdom slam-dunk … and it often is.

However, I wonder two things:

First, How well does this apply to our modern and fast-paced world?

Things change so quickly and so often that we assume some lack of accuracy with first reports and early launches.  

Think software, where for decades, we have happily accepted Beta versions of programs that run our lives, expecting bugs and defects to show up and be fixed with a continual stream of updates. 

Second, consider the idea of “Good Enough“, which is meant to spur action, as opposed to a long series of actions to create the perfect scenario, product, service, or statement.  

For us perfectionists, this is not comfortable, but from a competitive business viewpoint, it makes good sense.

If you have ever been burned by someone beating you to the punch, while you perfect your own … well, think about it.

Thanks for letting me share these observations.  Now you know where my mid-week head is at.  

What are your reactions to my observations?  

Would you share your own “debunking” of old wisdom?

Hoping to experience some real fine rants in the Heartland ….

John

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