Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Suspend Judgement

“You are young and as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.” – Plato

This series of posts are reflections on the behaviors of successful people that are worthy of emulation...

We have previously identified that

Successful people are
  • Congruent
  • Present
  • Suspend Judgement
  • Cultivate Positive Thoughts
  • Understand the Power of Words
  • Are Physically Fit
  • Make the Best Use of Their Time
  • Study Successful Role Models
  • Listen
  • Serve Others

The third behavior of successful people is the ability to suspend judgement.  This will be our topic for today.

The following story can help us  to understand the concept of suspending judgement....

“Good, Bad, Who knows?

There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer's neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, "Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?" 

A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, "Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?"

Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, "Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?"

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg, he didn’t have to go to war. "Good luck?   Bad luck? Who knows...

Events happen – they are neither good nor bad until  WE attach a judgment to them…When we refrain from attaching judgement we are living in a state of equanimity.

Living in a state of equanimity allows us to be less rigid and live more harmoniously in a world where the only constant is change.  Being non-reactive allows us to maintain a pleasant equilibrium .

It has been said that it is not what happens that is important, but it is our reaction that matters.  When we adopt a wait-and-see attitude, we will be less likely to jump to conclusions.

I invite you to apply the advice of Plato and adopt the third behavior of successful people.  Just for today,    refrain from judging.  And then, for good measure, suspend your judgment for just a little while longer.

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