James MacDonald makes a living revealing nonsense: CNO. How lucrative it is I dare not speculate but I do know his counselling services have been sought by senior business executives, he has a regular slot on America’s National Public Radio and publishes a punishingly candid newsletter each month. He offers pithy insights in an age that seems to give little time for thinking to any depth or scope. In the August (2012) letter he juxtaposed our inclination to drive at the same speed during the night as the day with our tendency to take more care when walking at night than in the day. The idea he presented for our consideration:
“And so it is in many areas of life we are conditioned to stick to perceived rules even as situations change. And then we wonder why nonsense happens to us”.
His proposal is we need multiple sources of feedback. Getting feedback from people we like, those who tend to think as we do, is unlikely to help, it will merely reinforced our prejudices. However, listening to those we don’t like and paying them heed will reap rewards.
The herd you run with dictates the direction you travel. It will guide the season you change, the company you keep and your response to threats. My question is do you have the courage to leave the protection of the herd?
As a cyclist there are occasions when I cross legal boundaries. I deliberately cloud my judgement or seek, probably in vain, to exploit the limitations of the law, usually when a red light is in my way. However, if there is a policeman on hand I will be obedient to the law; in fact I’ll take extra care to stay within its legal confines. Haven’t you been there? On the freeway when you see signs that the law present you ease back on the accelerator? You and I are law breakers, we are stubborn and we like to operate within our own contrived legal framework, that’s until we see the law.
James MacDonald goes on to speak of decisions made in the heat of stupidity that we later regret. Promises or pledges that seemed like such a good idea but now how foolish they seem…He uses the analogy of a whole bunch of rat kings entwined in enmity with one another and unable to escape. The law shows us the rats we are. Immersed in a culture that promotes the lie that we can believe whatever we choose. Is it any wonder that people are unwilling to see how they measure up under the scrutiny of unwelcome feedback?