The Art of Worldly Wisdom Rule 91: Never act unless you think it prudent to do so

I had my doubts about this book based on the author and his biography and the first few rules. I expected pompousness and vagueness, but The Art of Worldly Wisdom proved to contain some actionable advice and insights.  In the coming posts, I will write the rule and attempt to examine how it applies to my life.

If the person doing something suspects he will fail, it will be evident to the person watching…if your judgement wavers in the heat of emotion, you’ll be thought a fool when things cool down. It is dangerous to undertake something when you doubt its wisdom. It would be safer not to act all all.

Obviously don’t pretend to be able to do something or have knowledge of a topic but I think this rule goes deeper than that. Sometimes it’s better not to act.

When someone asked me a question, if I had minimal knowledge about the subject, I would try my best to help, but this often lead to wasting the other person’s time and looking foolish myself. I should’ve just said, “I don’t know (optionally: I’ll try to figure it out and get back to you),” then independently attempt to fully understand and solve the question, and get back to the person by asking, “did you figure it out?”

I think also that there is something to be said about having or at least feigning confidence in everything you do. I don’t think you should mislead others by feigning confidence but at least learn how to project it, if that means standing up straight, speaking louder and looking at people in the eyes. By extension, be on the look out for others feigning confidence, because just because you will not mislead people doesn’t mean others won’t attempt to mislead you.

Finally, I think I’ve already said it in my first post about the book, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo,’ but don’t act rashly because you are emotional. In fact, just don’t act. Wait and calm down first.


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