Why People Need Protection from Themselves

In 1974, I got kicked off the high school baseball team for streaking through the quad during cheerleader tryouts. Believe it or not, streaking was a fad in the mid-1970s. They had a streaker on TV during the 1974 international broadcast of the Academy Awards. Country singer, Ray Stevens, even hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his song “The Streak.”

For those of you too young to have lived through the 1970s, streaking means to run through a public venue in the nude—a ski mask to obscure one’s identity is purely optional. See Will Ferrell’s streaking scene in the movie “Old School” for a demonstration.

Anyway, the consequences of my foolish act were something I could have avoided had I any passing acquaintance with the genius characteristic of the ability to judge.

The ability to judge is probably the biggest place where teenagers (and adults) make mistakes in real-life. There are many different aspects to the ability to judge that we could look at, and we’ll be covering every one of them, sooner or later. But today, we’ll hit one of the biggies.

File this aspect under forecasting future results. This inability is the reason for the product disclaimers you see on TV commercials or hear on the radio when a speed-talker announces the legal jargon at the end of an ad. Essentially, they have disclaimers because some of us can’t forecast the future results of our own (sometimes foolish or idiotic) actions.

Here are some real-life disclaimers courtesy of the World Wide Web: “Individual results may vary.” Or my personal favorite, “The user takes full responsibility for everything and anything that could and/or does go wrong resulting in any kind or type of problem, difficulty, embarrassment, loss of money or goods or services or sleep or anything else whatsoever.” Surely, that one would be delivered by a speed-talker.

But you get the idea. The disclaimers are trying to protect people from themselves. So, to improve your ability to judge, I’m going to provide you with two tools. The first tool is one designed to help you in predicting future results.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself: If I did _______ (fill in the blank) what might happen to me? This question is the tool I should have used on myself before donning a ski mask and sprinting into infamy.

Please don’t get this whole scenario confused with the genius characteristic of the willingness to take chances. With that characteristic, there are positive outcomes possible. The distinguishing feature here is that there is no upside to performing a foolish or thoughtless act. In fact, thoughtless is probably the defining word for stupidity.

The second tool is some advice I gave to my granddaughter about forecasting future results when she was only twelve years old. She was on the way to becoming a teenager and it was the best advice I could come up with at the time. I’m happy to report that this advice helped her make it to adulthood without incident. It has to do with your inner voice which is part of your innate ability to judge and will not fail you if you have any trouble in applying the first tool.

BEST ADVICE: Stupid people will try to get you to do stupid things. If a “friend” asks you to do something and you think it’s stupid, realize you’re right. It is stupid. Don’t be stupid.

Good advice. Don’t be stupid. Be a genius.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.