Making Dumb Choices

We all make dumb decisions at times. You have probably asked yourself this question more than once, “What was I thinking? That was really dumb.”

I was talking to a homeless man downtown today, and after putting some money in his cup I asked him some questions.  His name is John and he hopes to get a job down the street later on this month.

I asked him what the circumstances were that made him homeless. He told me that he had been in prison from 2009 to 2011 and he had had difficulty getting a job since then. I asked him what he did before he went to prison. He listed several jobs but his best one was working for the city. The other jobs sounded less permanent, including working for a restaurant and working for a temporary services company.

I asked what happened with the city job. He paused for a moment and then said, “Well, I robbed a store next to the police station, and that pretty much ended my career.”  He agreed with me that that was not a very smart move.

Before making a decision, get a second opinion (not from a person who has robbed a store!) Sleep on it. Talk to people who have made the same choice. Pray about it. Answer the “What if…” questions. Write down pros and cons of the consequences of the decision.

Of course sometimes the right decision is obvious. As one writer said, “If you don’t like to floss, just floss the teeth you want to keep.”

Run With the Right People

Recently I spent time with a good friend from high school with whom I played a lot of basketball. We started walking up Stone Mountain, outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and it is a rather steep walk. About a third of the way, I told him and my son who was also with us that I had had enough. So for my benefit we took the gondola to the top instead.

However, it was not always this way. In high school we both ran cross-country. I found hat running with Bob was just the right speed for me. He wore a size 14 shoe and like me was not graceful when he ran. You could hear him coming sometimes before you saw him.

But he never quit, and I could depend on his staying at the same pace and completing the race. I found that if I could keep up with him I could usually muster a little burst of speed near the end and finish in the ribbon category.

So it is in life. We tend to end up at the same place as the people we run with. When we pick the right people to run with, we end up finishing the race in the ribbon category.

Losing Your Marbles

Demosthenes, the great Greek orator, was also a stutterer. As a child, he was weak and unhealthy and children mocked him for his stuttering and called him Battalus. During that time in history, the term Battalus was used as a nickname for stutterers. One way he learned to cope with stuttering was to practice his speaking by putting pebbles in his mouth.

One public speaking instructor that I read about followed his example and would have his students practice speaking by putting marbles in their mouths. They began with six marbles and he permitted them to reduce the number by one each day. Finally, when they had lost of their marbles, they became effective public speakers.

I’m not sure the marble part will add anything to one’s skills, but I do know that practicing new material several times will help you overcome anxiety besides making you a more effective speaker.