“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it, and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more.”
Like practically all Twain-isms, this one is a gem. How often do we learn from an experience or a teaching but rather than stopping at the actual wisdom, take the lesson to a false conclusion?
A few quick examples:
- You buy something from a merchant and discover later that he was dishonest in his dealings with you.
The wisdom: Pay attention.
The false lesson: All merchants are cheats, so never trust any of them.
- You hear that it’s important to always speak truthfully to people when providing feedback.
The wisdom: Communicating truthfully is much more helpful to that person than saying only what they want to hear.
The false lesson: Your feedback must be conducted brutally, without tact or empathy. No need to frame it properly so that he or she will be encouraged rather discouraged.
- You learn that in sales persistence is important to success.
The wisdom: Don’t let the NO’s get you down. Keep plugging away. Work past the NO’s until you get to the YESes.
The false lesson: Keep calling the same person continually and annoying them.
As the Sages taught, “Who is wise? The one who learns from all others.”
Part of this wisdom is knowing the difference between the hot stove-lid… and the cold one.
What examples of true wisdom and false lessons can you share with us?