Article Index

          Today’s stren, #47, explains how we acquire good judgment.  According to my 1979 edition of the American Heritage dictionary, judgment is the capacity to make reasonable decisions, especially in regard to the practical affairs of life; good sense; wisdom.  Wisdom is good judgment; common sense; sagacity; understanding what is true, right, or lasting. 
Mark Twain expressed the following opinion:

Good judgment comes from experience.  And where does experience come from?  Experience comes from bad judgment.

          Do you understand Mark Twain’s view of “good judgment”?  Do you agree with him?  If good judgment comes from bad judgment, why do most people put themselves down and verbally beat on themselves when they make bad judgments?  What thoughts come to mind when you make a bad judgment?

          You may not remember your experience of learning to walk but you surely have observed how a child learns – first leaning too far one way, falling, picking himself up, leaning too far to the other side, falling, picking himself up, and experiencing many falls over a period of time before being able to navigate a straight path.  Children don’t seem to get upset or put themselves down when they err and fall down.  They quickly pick themselves up; they keep trying until they get it right.  Learning from mistakes and from bad judgment is quite natural, a trait inherited through our genes.  Yet, I’ve observed how many adults get so discouraged when they don’t succeed in an endeavor; they utter unflattering putdown words and easily give up. 

          It is said that when Edison was asked how he could go on to invent the light bulb after making so many mistakes before finding that tungsten would work, he responded, “I didn’t make any mistakes.  I learned 5000 substances that wouldn’t work.”  I’ve also read of many multimillionaires who became successful in business only after many, many attempts that others would describe as “failures.”  There is great wisdom in the statement, “If you don’t succeed at first, try, try again.”  Even better: “Try again with enthusiasm.”  In strens #23 and 24, The Reasonable Best Test of Self-worth (parts 1 and 2), I suggested we teach ourselves the skill of vigorous self-endorsement each time we discovered we weren’t doing our reasonable best, even when our endeavor didn’t bring the desired results. Rather than waste our energy putting our self down, it’s more constructive for us to recognize what we can learn from our bad judgment so we can progressively reach our goal in succeeding attempts.  The Reasonable Best input measure of self-worth is our means to consistently generate enthusiasm: “Hurrah for me when I do my reasonable best.”  Doing our reasonable best is 100% within our control.  The more commonly practiced but inappropriate outcome measure of self-worth is so different:  “I’m only O.K. if what I did got me what I want.”  No matter how absolutely we direct our energy to the outcome, there are many influences over which we have little or no control.