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Rule #20. Insight and wisdom can come from unexpected places.
In my recent post about the Liebster Award , I mention that I’m a big fan of The Little Prince, and that I think all adventurers and explorers should read it at least once. Some people would wonder why I speak so highly of a children’s story, but I fear those people are missing out on something quite extraordinary. Saint-Exupéry’s tale, while whimsical and fun, shares valuable lessons that I believe would benefit anyone looking to lead an intrepid life. If you’re dismissing these lessons just because they’re packaged in what you feel is a children’s book, then I suggest that you stop and consider that insight and wisdom can come from unexpected places.
If composing a list of my heroes and role models, names such as Bruce Wayne (Batman), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), and MacGyver would be penned alongside the names of my boss, my parents, and my mentor. Just because something is fictional, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from it. That’s the point of morality tales, fables, fairy tales, and urban legends; to impart wisdom. I’m aware that some of my heroes aren’t real in the same sense that you and I are, but being fictional doesn’t stop them from being inspirational, motivational, or instructional.
Not every real person is a wellspring of enlightenment either. I’m lucky to have spent the last two and a half years working for a manager who has been encouraging and insightful. He has shared his knowledge and experience freely, helping me to develop a better sense of foresight and judgement. That being said, I previously spent years laboring away under a terrible boss. It was unpleasant, unsatisfying, and I was very unhappy. Still, I learned quite a bit about leadership in that position; I learned that a good leader takes responsibility for errors, trusts his team, leads from the front, and shares congratulations. I learned these things because I worked for a boss who failed to do any of this. So while I grumbled when out with friends after work, I can honestly say I am grateful I spent the time I did working for that boss. I gained valuable insight from that job, even if it wasn’t enjoyable.
Of course, there is also the wisdom of children. Natural explorers they are, and to think we laugh because they walk around in underoos. But if you take a moment to talk to a kid, you’ll realize that they see a lot of things that we miss; they see the beauty in the crawling caterpillar, they love to get dirty, and they’re not afraid to run around in the rain. They don’t know a lot of facts, figures, or rules. They’re not bound up by the same limitations with which we’re saddled. We can learn a lot by letting go of the assumption that we know better than they do, simply because we’re older. After all, when you were a kid, didn’t you hate it when an adult said the dreaded words, “because I said so,” in response to your curiousity.
So next time you’re face to face with something whimsical, fictional, disappointing, or child-like, don’t immediately dismiss it. Give it a second to sink in, think about what you can learn, and let go of the notion that you must be right. Sure, you might be, but a second look from a different perspective could provide you with an unexpected epiphany. If you’re too quick to reject the message from an unconventional source, you may be missing out on valuable lessons that have the potential to change the direction of your life. So give these odd experiences a chance, and remember that insight and wisdom can come from unexpected places.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is an ongoing weekly article that gives potential guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an intrepid life.