Quora Saturday: cheating, ‘Murica, more cheating, wisdom beyond books, and leadership

August 20, 2016 by Joshua
in Quora

Continuing my Saturday series on posting my answers to questions from Quora, here are my next questions answered:

Q: Is it ethical to search the cell phone of my partner if I’ve been told he is cheating?

A: I recommend two different questions than if it’s ethical:

  1. What alternatives do I have?
  2. What will the results of my actions be for each alternative?

Even if you think it’s ethical, he might not. Then he might consider you more wrong than you consider him and something salvageable could be ruined. There is no absolute measure of what’s ethical. If there was, you would have consulted it and had your answer.

If you think of as many alternatives as you can, you’ll more likely find a result that will work better for you than this one, independent of whether people call it ethical or not.

Also, creating new alternatives often leads to more perspectives and solutions. Since you have to consider his perspective, you gain empathy and compassion.

Q: Do you find it offensive when people write “‘Murica”?

A: What others do is under their control. Your emotional reaction is under yours. If you feel offense, that’s your reaction.

Something they do may prompt it, but you can choose to feel offense or not. Personally, I don’t like feeling offended so I choose not to.

Q: How do you know for certain you won’t cheat on anyone?

A: You can know for certain you’ll never cheat on anyone by not agreeing to exclusivity.

That may rule out some people as partners who demand exclusivity but will allow others who don’t and may change your relationships in other ways.

Q: In terms of acquiring life’s wisdom, what are better things to do than reading books?

A: Yes.

Some things you can only learn through experience. Here are some things you can’t learn from reading:

  • To play the piano or any musical instrument
  • To sing
  • To dance
  • To play basketball or any sport
  • To cook
  • To act
  • To lift weights or any physical challenge
  • To write
  • To kiss
  • To start a company
  • To protest something you consider wrong
  • To speak a foreign language
  • To ride a bicycle

Some things you can’t do while reading

  • To climb a mountain
  • To run a marathon
  • To perform in front of an audience
  • To have a conversation with someone
  • To write a book
  • To run for office
  • To see the Eiffel Tower

Some experiences you can’t get from a book

  • The feeling of listening to a beautiful piece of music performed
  • To see great art in a museum or gallery
  • To look into the eyes of someone you love
  • Applause for your performance
  • The beauty and grandeur of nature, say from the beach or Grand Canyon

You get the idea. These lists could go on for thousands of items. I hope the connection from these things to life’s wisdom is obvious. You can pick any of these things and find related things to do to develop wisdom. Learn to play a new instrument, climb a mountain, run for office. The key is that you have to challenge yourself actively.

There’s a reason companies pay more for people with more experience. They know how to do more things and solve more problems. That’s a big part of wisdom.

Q: Why is leadership training as important as leadership education?

A: If by education you mean lecture-based, case-study-based, traditional classroom learning, because leadership is not a traditional academic subject. It is active, social, emotional, experiential, and performance-based. In that sense it has more in common with acting or playing a musical instrument.

Nobody learns to play the piano by reading books or listening to lectures. You learn to play by practicing and rehearsing. Same with any field that’s also active, social, emotional, experiential, and performance-based. Leadership training gives you experience doing things. It’s like practicing and rehearsing on a small scale so on big scales you can fall back on experience, not words you read or heard lectured at you.

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