Or “there are two sides to every story” or “look before you leap.” All clichés regarding slowing down a bit before you react to what you believe to be true.
A fun example of this is a number of years ago when my wife and I had taken our youngest daughter, Tiffany, for a college visit at Iowa State University. We had gone through a number of orientation sessions and some small group Q&A and right before lunch the entire group was gathering in a large room.
As I was about to sit down I noticed a student in the row behind us had on a T-shirt with our last name on it. A somewhat unique last name, I seldom, if ever, run into someone that is part of the Westrom clan. I turned to Tiffany and whispered “The guy sitting behind us is related, look at his shirt.” She casually looked over her shoulder and then looked back at me and with that “fearful teenage look” on her face she whispered “Don’t say anything.”
My response was “I have to say something, he’s related. Wouldn’t you want to know if there were other Westroms at ISU?” Tiffany has now moved to a tight-lipped, stern whisper “NO, don’t say anything.”
After the session was over everyone went to lunch and I passed the young man in the dining hall. At this point he had taken off his hoody and I could clearly see what was on his T-shirt…LIVESTRONG.
Many times in my business career (and life) I’ve been sure of something only to find out after a little time had passed that what I was sure of actually wasn’t true. As I’ve gotten older I’ve slowed down my response time to things that seem wrong or make me angry.
In a day and age where technology gives us the opportunity to respond quickly, directly and broadly regarding what we believe to be true…or untrue…occasionally we need that stern whisper in our ear to perhaps save us from some embarrassment.
Jeff Westrom is JWM’s Co-Founder, Co-Owner, President of Creative Services, and designer of historical displays and groan-worthy puns.