Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Three Examples

Two young men were charged with trespassing in the Calgary Zoo after hours. They not only climbed the fence around the zoo but also the first perimeter wall around the tiger enclosure. One of the interlopers was mauled so badly his arm may have to be amputated. The Calgary Sun newspaper summarized the public sentiment on the event with editorial cartoon that depicted a tiger with the thought balloon caption “Well Duh!” What were they thinking?

Hurricane watching is a bit of a sport in Nova Scotia. We get a lot of fading storms caressing our coast blown up from the Gulf of Mexico. The storms bring big waves for surfers (yes we surf in NS) and spectacular seascapes. Arguable the best view is at the historic lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove. During a recent storm three people we posing for pictures well beyond the permanent “dangerous surf” warning signs. They were swept off the rocks and spit back on the shore by the next surge with broken bones but luckily no life threatening injuries. What were they thinking?

There is construction zone traffic merging from 2 lanes to 1. The cement truck to my left pulls ahead leaving a gap in the lane in front of a red dump truck. As I nudge into the gap the dump truck rolls ahead. “Oh yeah”, I think, “I’ll show him.” And I play chicken and keep going determined not to get stuck in a jam. He keeps on truckin’ and in slow motion rubs rubber off his tire up my driver’s side to the back door. Thankfully my baby in the passenger side car seat doesn’t wake up. What was I thinking?

What do the stupid people in these stories have in common? What were they thinking?

It’s temptation to judge stupidity. Before you cast stones from glass houses I invite you to ponder the answers to the questions.

What they were thinking were typical of “box thoughts.” They are thoughts that arise when we think we are better than others and focus on two very simple questions: Who and What?

Who Focus : Self (My world view is all about me)
What Focus : Justifying (My thoughts and rationalizations keep my “me first” viewpoint)

In order to maintain a grip on a world view that is all about me (self-first) I need to create a box of built by justifications. Take a minute to review the 3 scenarios above and imagine the internal dialogue that must take place in order to override the common sense that usually protects us from doing stupid things.

Step 2: Invite yourself to reflect and grow by reviewing a recent incident in your life where you put self first and justified your actions till the point of stupidity. Feel free to share your insights on this blog. I’d love to hear that I am not alone in a stupidity haze.

Step 3: Read the book “The Anatomy of Peace” Click Here for More

Next week: How to have “who and what” focus of a Joyful Servant Leader

Stupid Does

Stupid Does

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5 Responses to Stupid Is As Stupid Does

  1. Tracie St-Jean says:

    Hi Peter:

    Thanks for the insight….you always manage to find a way in such a busy day to intrigue me into reading your articles. Congrats on being a being a new parent, all I can say is having kids makes life wonderful. Do you have any planned speaking engagements in Ottawa coming up? I would love to attend one for some much needed inspiration.

    Cheers,

    Tracie from Public Health Agency of Canada

  2. Barb Holmes says:

    Dear Peter:

    Who knows what makes us do stupid things? Perhaps it’s a sense of entitlement, and it bumps up against someone else’s sense of entitlement. We somehow believe we will get away with things, that perhaps we are bigger (dump truck) or invincible (I can’t die). I sometimes think generally speaking when things are going well our lives are a series of happy accidents, although I personally believe that doing what is right is often rewarded, even if it’s just by a sense of having done so. Sometimes we do what’s right; sometimes we don’t. Sometimes there are consequences we can see; sometimes we pretend we don’t know what happens afterward!

    The real bottom line is, we all do stupid things, and aren’t we glad when we live to tell the tale? I’ll send you a Nerf bat; I have a selection I use to whack myself.

    Cheers, Barb

  3. Bill says:

    How often do we all make an act of stupidity during the day? The important part is that we all learn from these acts and carry their lessons forward (at least as long as our memory lasts)… unfortunately chronic ignorance is the real enemy for many acts of stupidity.

    As always, thanks for sharing your stories.

  4. Anne says:

    Glad to hear Baby and Daddy are ok.

  5. Pat says:

    Peter:

    So many times I think that I can out smart someone or something that is about ready to take place. Thankfully, I sometimes truly analyze the pros and cons of the situation and then make a decision to proceed.
    Of course, there are those times when I just go for it and then step back and go, “oh, what was I thinking”.

    Glad that you and Hannah are fine!!!

    Thanks for sharing!

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