And Finally ... ‘Tis Folly to be Wise?

Apr 08 | 2016

I recall a time many years ago, and before I left home; when if ever the telephone rang (and they actually did ring in those days) my mother could be heard to cry out:  "Oh My God!" -  you see she always perceived that this sound was a harbinger of bad news. 

As time went on, this increasingly became a family joke and if the telephone ever rang during our get-togethers, the whole lot of us would call out: "Oh my God!"  I’m sure that, on occasions, our neighbours must have formed the impression that they were living next door to a family of evangelists! 

As amusing as this might have seemed at the time, I must now admit to having also reached a stage in my own life when if the telephone rings or I receive an email or a text, my first reaction is normally: "Oh My God!" Although so far I have managed to stop myself uttering this out loud, as I could not face the ignominy of becoming the butt of family jokes (some hopes!). 

It’s really quite interesting how our attitudes change as we progress along this conveyer belt which we call life. When we are young, we live in a world where nothing ever goes wrong and we are surrounded by people who will last forever. We do, however, slowly and inexorably come to realise that our progress is governed by a combination of both chance and inevitability. Bad news accrues as we get older and this of course conditions our future attitudes - no bad thing really as we hopefully learn from our experiences. Consequently, old age is fundamentally an amalgam of wisdom and bloody mindedness, whereas youth – which somebody once said is wasted on the young – is a combination of optimism accompanied by a series of bulls in a series of china shops! 

Of course this natural state of things can lead to problems for businesses, and especially family businesses - of which there are many within the moving industry. Ideally we should exist with a combination of the two best qualities of the extremes, namely wisdom and optimism. Unfortunately, the opposite is often the case and we end up with a partnership consisting of bloody mindedness accompanied by a bull in a china shop. Not so good, especially if we own a china shop. 

Of course this state of affairs not only appertains to businesses, but also, to governments, families, clubs, associations and so on. Nations with ageing populations tend to be conservative by nature, whereas youthful populations tend to be more innovative and dynamic. I suppose that when you come to think about it, we ‘learn’ when we are young but we ‘understand’ when we are older. To put it another way and to quote that well known sage Jimi Hendrix (yes! Jimi Hendrix): "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens" – and not only was he quite right, but he was also quite young at the time. 

In theory, maybe middle-age is the most ideal situation, as ostensibly we must possess a combination of both extremes. But unfortunately this might simply mean that we are left wanting in both qualities by slowly losing our youthful zest as we wait for wisdom to strike. 

Whist we are on the subject of quotations, the one by J M Barrie of Peter Pan fame when he said: "I am not yet young enough to know everything", is most appropriate. To me this pearl of wisdom really sums things up. Lots of inventions are made by the young who are unencumbered by the restrictions of wisdom. But do not despair dear middle-aged reader; most inventions are made by people within your age bracket: Fleming, Einstein and Edison for example. 

But of course the reality is that the pace of change is exponential, and if you look at the abundance of inventions that relate to computerisation for example; well who would have the energy apart from the young to keep up the pace? We have to accept that, remarkably, this is still a relatively new ‘science’ and perhaps we also have to accept that ‘a bull in a china shop’ attitude is the best one to have in this instance. There is very little accumulated wisdom to rely upon and it’s an industry that is chock full of young pioneers; albeit rich ones!  

I suppose the conclusion of all of this is that, as individuals, we not only evolve throughout our life but we also evolve as a species. All age groups have a part to play in this process - thank goodness. Just remember, by the way, that an owl is only considered to be wise simply because it looks wise - so maybe we should try this ourselves, it might help!