Count to Ten: Then Act

Like most of you out there in reader-land, I am a human being. Well, maybe like all of you I guess.


Like most of you out there in reader-land, I am a human being. Well, maybe like all of you I guess. As such it is my right and my privilege to act like a real jerk from time to time. Sad to say, I have exercised that right on more than one occasion.

There are those who even see this business of acting like a jerk as being a right granted by our constitution and protected by our courts. These folks take great pains to exercise that right with an almost religious fervor. They have even elevated it to a fine art. Perhaps you have met someone like this.

The major problem with acting like a jerk is that it sidetracks a great many of the positive acts, actions, and activities which were undertaken prior to that moment by that person. Frankly, acting like a jerk wastes the time and energy of everyone concerned. It is my belief that this energy could be better employed elsewhere in positive ways by all of us as well as our organizations.

More than that, once you have acted like a jerk you have to devote an excessive amount of energy to dancing your way out of trouble. I don't know about you, but my skills as a dancer were never that great to begin with. As a matter of fact, they have only diminished with age.

I have developed a new philosophy to handle this problem in my life. My new philosophy is really quite simple. It is my fervent belief that it is much better to avoid falling into the muddy ditch at the side of the road than to have to work your way up and out of it. So it is that over the past few months I have attempted to break some new ground in the area of preemptive smartness. Or as my television hero Red Forman might say it, I have worked at avoiding a case of the dumb-ass.

As you might imagine, I am presented with numerous opportunities each week to do something really stupid. In some cases it could be a careless remark to a family member and at other times it might possibly be an interaction with a friend, client, or professional associate. I am never more than a heartbeat from my computer and its tie-in to the rest of the world.

Each of these holds the potential to become a fresh new opportunity to act like a jerk. Let me assure you that in my time I have taken advantage of more than one of these opportunities. I am what you might call a recovering dumb-ass.

Over the past several months I have worked to develop a totally new approach to avoiding the creation of personal stupid actions in the world. Each time someone angers me or presents me with the chance to get up on my high horse and pontificate about whatever the subject might be, I stop dead in my tracks. I then pause and mumble my new mantra to myself.

"...Don't be a dumb-ass --- Don't be a dumb-ass --- Don't be a dumb-ass..." This is my modern version of the old warning that your grandmother gave to you. Remember? When you find yourself getting mad, be sure to pause and count to ten before you do something stupid.

My version is a bit earthier, however. I find that it helps me to focus and thereby possibly stay out of trouble. Try it. You might find it saves you a whole lot of time and energy. By the way, don't tell my wife about this. She just thinks that I am quietly contemplating my navel on the other side of my office door.

Why, might you ask, am I barking up the tree of the eternal dumb-ass this week? Quite simply a friend of mine has fallen into that muddy ditch on the side of the road. I believe that he might even be guilty of attempting to do the right thing, but in the wrong manner. Even though he was probably acting with total sincerity, he made the mistake of indulging in a bit of public name calling.

While he did not mention the actual names of the players, the facts of the matter speak for themselves. This is what our friends in the world of the law call Res Ipsa Loquitur, which is to say, let the thing speak for itself. This is a legal principle often used in negligence cases where the act is so egregious that no further testimony is needed other than a presentation of the facts.

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