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Charley’s Law

Drew Hurley

In the spirit of Murphy’s Law, I offer for your consideration, Charley’s Law: Don’t be stupid.

Don’t be stupid. That is, try to avoid the stupidity of deliberately making bad decisions. Stupidity is not ignorance (the lack of information). Ignorance can be easily cured by acquiring the appropriate information. Stupidity required much more basically flawed process of decision making.

In order to avoid stupidity one must try to be smart. You must do what smart people do.

What do smart people do? They think before acting. They question their own motives, and the motives and expectations of others.

How do they do that? They know that all behavior has meaning. Every act is a movement of will; an action of intent. Moreover, the intentions of others can largely be anticipated. We human beings are a accurately described as “creatures of habit.” What is a habit? Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it this way:

HABIT 1. costume; dress. 2. a particular costume showing rank, status, etc.; specifically, a) a distinctive religious costume; as a mink’s habit. b) a costume worn for certain occasions; as, a woman’s riding habit. 3. habitual or characteristic condition of mind or body; disposition: as a man of healthy habit. 4. a thing done often and hence, usually, done easily; practice; custom; act that is acquired and has become automatic, hence, 5. a tendency to perform a certain action in a certain way; usual way of doing, as, he does it out of habit. 6. an addiction: as, the alcohol habit. 7. in biology, the tendency of a plant or animal to grow in a certain way; characteristic growth; as, a twining habit.

Do these seven definitions have something in common? They do.

These definitions describe behaviors that can be entered into without thinking. That is to say, without consciously focusing one’s attention to a specific behavior or activity. The decision to engage in such behavior or activity having been previous made, or assumed. The specific pattern of such behavior a behavior will therefore become ceremonial.

Thinking people learn to anticipate the behaviors of those around them. They focus their attention on the physical signs: the costumes, the appearances and behaviors of the people they encounter and the larger social context of their interaction.

They also listen very carefully. Care is necessary because words are often self- serving. Such words are the justifications we use to explain our intentions. Therefore, they must always be taken with a grain of salt. Please understand that actions never lie, while words frequently do.

The truth is what you do. The costumes we wear are the masks we use to hide our bodies. The specific ways we choose to do this are quite revealing. Study the clothing and jewelry of others. For every detail of texture, or ornament, ask why.

Here is where the rub comes in. We are not robots. habits can be broken. When it comes to human behavior, Galileo was only partly correct. Form does NOT determine function, it merely limits it. The determination, the motivation, comes from within us. This source, the inspiration for all thought and intention, is called variously: heart, mind, soul, psyche, spirit, etc.

The things we do, we do because we choose to do them. There may be many pressures compelling a decision to reach a singular outcome at a specific moment in time. On those occasions, we tend to be more aware of the potential consequences of our actions.

On less momentous occasions, we are likely to have “something else on our mind” during the period of time characterized as “habitual.” What are those “something else” preoccupations? These distractions are nothing less than the stream of motivations and intentions which shape our lives. These shapes are most clearly visible through our patterns of behavior.

Think about what you do. About what other people do. There is a reason for every action. Indeed, every inaction. Mistakes of reason and assumption are inevitable. Bear up well with these mistakes, and learn from them.

Always remember, the best way to avoid being stupid is to try to be smart. Try. Practice makes perfect, especially when probing the depths of human understanding.

Above all, avoid deliberate and conscious stupidity. Use as much information as possible to reach any decision. Revise and re-apprise the sources of your information regularly. Try to understand the reasons “why.”

The only sure means of increasing your intelligence is to make the effort to try. True understanding may not come easily, but it will come if you persist in your attempt to fulfill Charley’s Law: Don’t be stupid.


For a glimpse at the man behind Charley's Law, read Charley's Power Pitch

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Tuesday, 04-May-2010 14:47:45 EDT