Dolphins, Apologies And Self-confidence


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Douglas Adams had what was likely an important insight into the nature of free will. If you were free to do what you will, what would you choose?

Before you take your pick, here is Adams’ point for you to contemplate, “It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons.”

A particularly good time to do your contemplating is the next time you are doing the laundry or find yourself parked on the freeway during rush hour or trying to figure out how to negotiate the new login procedure for the office network. Your conclusion may be that Mark Twain had a point when he said, “I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the lower animals (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.”
Red Auerbach said, “The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology.” Now isn’t that just dandy. It likely means the key to correct actions is to never make a mistake, to never make an error in judgment, to never make a social or emotional miscalculation …. You get the idea.

Red may have identified the key, but using it may be a bit risky. It is the same key that locks the door to personal growth, more fulfilling relationships, and expanding opportunity. So long as you don’t overdo it, an occasional apology is, as grandpa liked to say, “A good way to have the last word.” Just be sure to keep Kimberly Johnson’s caution in mind when you apologize, “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

You may be tempted to presume self-confidence is a good quality merely because it improves your performance. People who are self-confident generally do better than those who aren’t.

Feeling confident does enhance one’s functioning, but that is only the half of it. As Lord Chesterfield said, “Polished brass will pass upon more people than rough gold.” The point is that looking confident may be as important as being confident. Niccolo Machiavelli put it like this, “Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.” Daniel Webster expanded on the point, “The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it.”

Baltasar Gracian may have been excessively cynical, “Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem. Most things are judged by their jackets.” Even so, Ivy Compton-Burnett’s view is likely at least partially correct, “Appearances are not held to be a clue to the truth. But we seem to have no other.” The take home point is to be sure, along with being self-confident, you also appear to be who you want others to think you are. For example, Along with feeling like a winner, you also need to look like a winner.

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