"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is self-evident."
I was doing some research on the Internet yesterday when I came across a heartwarming article about people who want to spread some holiday cheer by helping others.
According to the story, there are literally thousands of anonymous "Santas" who go to stores and generously pay off people’s layaway charges for no reason other than to give a gift to those who might need some extra help over the holidays.
A layaway is a payment method whereas the customer will pay a small amount of the purchase price and ask the store to hold the item until they can come back with the rest of the money they owe on the item.
Layaway Santas, simply come into the store and randomly pay the remaining balance owed on the items.
As a big believer of "random acts of kindness" and "pay it forward" philosophies, I found this story to be an inspiration... especially this holiday season where it seems that there are more and more people with less and less.
As I came to the end of the story, I noticed that there were several comments left by readers. So I decided to read a few.
Some comments lauded the good Samaritans... some comments were about personal experiences with similar type situations or even other ideas on how to expand on the giving... then there were those comments that were only written, it seems, to throw water on the fire.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading... some people actually berated the good souls as "suckers" falling for a scam perpetrated by con men.
Such is the world we live in today I suppose.
These days it seems that the world is being divided into two separate camps... those who look at the world as a glass half-empty and those who look at the world as a glass half-full.
The Glass is Half-Empty
These are the people who think that they are doing the world a great service by pointing out all of the flaws in any idea. They will tell you all the ways the project can fail and why, even if it did work, it still would be less than a perfect solution.
When you ask them what their better solution is... their comeback, more often than not, is a derivative of "I don’t know... but I sure wouldn’t be doing what you are suggesting".
They claim to be realists as opposed to being simply idealists... but in reality... they are just against whatever it is on the table at the moment.
They are the cynics and skeptics.
To them... everything is a negotiation and/or a transaction with a definite winner on one side and a loser on the other. If the deal is a win-win... that just means one side didn’t get enough.
More often than not, they will preface their comments with words like, "I’m only saying this because I like you" and then go on to bombast and criticize you and your ideas, thoughts and/or actions.
I like to refer to this group of people as "Negative Nellies".
The Glass is Half-Full
These are the people who can look at any situation and find something positive about it. They believe they can and do make a difference in the world.
They are full of ideas of how the world should be... not how it really is...
To them there is only one speed and one direction... full speed ahead.
The problem with people yelling "Damn the torpedoes... full speed ahead!!"... is that more often than not, they end up getting hit with torpedoes.
This group of people tends to blindly follow leaders without asking a bunch of good questions along the way because they don’t want to cause waves or dissension among the ranks.
They believe that everything is going to be fine because they think it’s going be fine...
I like to refer to this second group as "Pollyannas".
The thing is... we really need to have a little bit of both "Negative Nelly" and "Pollyanna" in us to survive and thrive in this world.
It’s not unlike the "ant story" from a few weeks ago... we need to think negatively when things are going well and we need to think positively when things are going bad.
When things are going good... we tend to get complacent and stop to rest on our laurels...
When things are going bad... we tend to get despondent and just give up without a fight...
It’s important to use the best attributes from both sides...
Life is about avoiding dangers and taking advantage of the opportunities... the key to life is understanding the differences between the two.
We need to continue to conjure up good ideas and then we need to inspect and debate those ideas... the better that we can stand up to scrutiny, the better chance we will have to succeed.
Debate is essential in developing good ideas into workable plans... but equally important is that our ideas shouldn’t be so watered-down as to try and appeal to everyone...
Baskin-Robbins makes 31 flavors because not everyone likes vanilla... and that’s a good thing.
Many of the best ideas... the ground-breaking ones... were not necessarily the most popular ideas at first... and in fact, many of the best ideas were first ridiculed and mocked by critics... planetary motion... atomic theory... pasteurization... the steam engine... the airplane... the internet...
Skeptics have existed since the days of Noah and his ark (click here to hear Bill Cosby’s classic representation of those critics)...
They will continue to throw water onto the fires of innovation... but they also play a critical role in vetting the good ideas from the bad...
I think that George Carlin put it best... "some people think that the glass is half-full while others believe the glass is half-empty... myself, I just think the glass is just too damn big"...
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we always try to open ourselves up to debate in order to try and get a little better each day.