#066: The Difference Between the Wise and the Foolish (and Why It Matters to You) [Podcast]

I recently had a call from a business acquaintance who wanted to discuss a problem he was facing at work. I asked several questions, but it quickly became obvious that he didn’t really want to solve the problem. He had a quiver full of excuses as to why things couldn’t change.

A Man Without His Shoes Tied Together

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/blueximages

It became apparent I was dealing with a classic “fool.” I know that sounds harsh, but it is what it is. I knew immediately that talking about it any more was a waste of time. I had to change strategies.

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In Chapter 7 of Necessary Endings: Businesses and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, Dr. Henry Cloud discusses the primary difference between the wise and the foolish. Surprisingly, it is not about position, intelligence, or talent.

According to King Solomon, it is about how we receive instruction and correction.

For example, a wise person:

  • Listens without being defensive
  • Accepts responsibility without blame
  • Changes without delay

Conversely, a fool:

  • Doesn’t listen and is defensive
  • Won’t accept responsibility
  • Procrastinates making change

If you’re dealing with someone who refuses to listen and won’t change, you might be dealing with a fool. If so, you have to change your strategy. You have to stop talking, set limits, and provide consequences.

It is critical that we distinguish between the wise and foolish if we are going to be effective as leaders. Even more important, we must practice wisdom in our own lives by being open to correction, accepting responsibility for our actions, and changing our behavior when necessary.

Listener Questions

  1. Adam Witmer asked, “What if you are trying to be wise but are just risk-adverse?”
  2. Andrew Mason asked, “What motivates a person who wants to be wise hungry to listen?”
  3. Danny De los Reyes asked, “What is the difference between being young and being foolish?”
  4. Travis Dommert asked, “How do you bring up foolishness in the workplace without making people immediately defensive?”

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Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: Who is the best example of someone you know who is wise? What makes them wise? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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