Every now and then something happens that shows the wisdom, or lack thereof, of people you would think had more insight than they do have. I recently witnessed such an incident which got me thinking.
Over the Easter weekend I happened to pop in to our local Spar early on Saturday morning to collect the newspaper. As I pulled in to the parking area, I drove up behind a white Audi four-by-four whose driver was waiting for a car to reverse out of a parking place so that he could occupy the space. The parking space was right next to an ATM machine which happened to have an armoured cash van parked next to it while the ATM was being refilled.
As the car vacating the parking space drove off, the cash van pulled forward to ensure that no-one parked in the parking spot. I could not think of any personal or selfish motive for the armoured car driver to do so. I imagine he did this for security purposes and/or to better protect the security staff restocking the ATM.
His blocking of the parking space obviously upset "Audi driver" who ignored the fact that I and a couple of other cars were waiting for him to move on as we were in a single lane and couldn't get past him. Instead, he drew level with the cash van and attempted to exchange words with the driver before thankfully moving off to park elsewhere.
I was interested to see what type of person couldn't have connected the dots and seen the obvious that the cash van driver had no personal motive for blocking the parking space and was probably acting in the interests of his team.
"Audi driver" and his wife, in their late 50s/early 60s, got out of their car and marched up to the van. I stood at a distance, quietly watching the scene unfold. "Wife' proceeded to make a big thing of whipping out her cell phone and taking a photo of the cash van. The reason for this escaped me. Was she wanting to scare or intimidate the driver? Was she taking the photo for evidence? If so, of what a driver doing his job?
Her husband marched up to the driver's door and proceeded to berate the driver, telling him he was going to report him. Again, I wondered, what would he be reporting him for blocking a parking space at the ATM? His comment about reporting made me think back to my school days when that term was used to scare other school children. It seemed a little childish coming from someone who probably last hung out on a school playground over 40 years ago.
Naturally the driver was not going to open his window (if, indeed, he was able to) or get into an argument so, because he wasn't getting much response, "Audi driver" sloped off into the Spar breathing out threatenings and slaughter under his breath.
I then went inside to get my paper. As I made my way to the tills, I saw "Audi driver" engaged in verbally abusing one of the security guards from the van who had also made his way into the shop, again threatening, "I'm going to report you."
As the guard walked past me on his way away from "Audi driver", I gave him what I hoped was a sympathetic look and said quietly, "Don't let him get to you."
He looked at me and said, "He's an idiot," with which I could not argue.
On the face of it, "Audi driver" looked fairly intelligent and also looked like he had a responsible job. Why, then, could he not see the obvious reasons for what had happened and why had he taken it so personally?
Because he was probably wise in his own eyes.
When you are wise in your own eyes, you think that what you think is right and that, obviously then, everybody else is wrong. After all, surely if you're right, others must be wrong.
The very fact that you may think you are wise in your own eyes, disqualifies you from being wise. People who are wise do not consider themselves as wiser, smarter or better than others, but people who are wise in their own eyes do.
Wise people know and understand that their perception of reality is but only one view of reality and that others have different and equally valid perceptions. Wise people however make decisions that will result in an outcome that benefits all. Wise people take into account the fact that they might not have seen something others have seen. Those who are wise in their own eyes are not concerned about what others see or know, only about themselves. All they want therefore is their own way.
How about you? Do you believe that you're always right and others are wrong? Do you believe others should accommodate what you want? Maybe you're just being wise in your own eyes. If you start listening with no hidden agenda to what others are saying you might start to realise that your views of reality are not necessarily always right. That will open the way for you to consider other options.
Those who are genuinely wise appear wise in the eyes of others, but those who are wise in their own eyes are not wise in anybody else's eyes. In fact, they appear as fools but don't realise it, just like "Audi driver".
How would you like to be seen?
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.