Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 1, 2004
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 1, 2004 – Measure twice – cut once. What a sage bit of advice. It could apply as easily to taking measurements for window blinds as it could to making certain that the dimensions of a room were correct before ordering new broadloom. Double check your facts before making an irrevocable decision.
I thought about this and realized how it could apply equally to almost any situation in life. We take things at face value a lot of the time. We meet someone who presents himself or herself a certain way, and until that first impression is altered by behaviour to the contrary, we accept it as accurate.
There have been times when I’ve had a nagging suspicion in my mind (my intuition trying to get my attention) that something wasn’t quire right about a person or situation, but I’ve ignored it because there wasn’t any available information that supported my unease. I thought I was just being silly.
Fortunately these subtle messages spoke more to a person’s character, or lack thereof. I’ve never been in any physical danger as a result of not listening to my inner knowing, but I have had people take advantage of my trust, waste my time personally and professionally and use my contacts or networking capabilities for their own selfish ends.
If I had only been a little more circumspect and not shared a helping hand quite so quickly (measured twice, cut once), I would have avoided those circumstances. I certainly don’t want to go through life looking over my shoulder and feeling and acting suspicious or paranoid – a boogeyman at every turn – but it doesn’t hurt a bit to approach people, places and things with a healthy degree of skepticism.
I don’t mean that we shouldn’t expect situations to turn out well. In fact, I believe the adage “what you dwell on – you draw to yourself”- sort of like “be careful what you wish for”. I still think it’s important to trust people and to believe in the goodness in life, but it’s silly to expect that everyone who crosses your path will have your best interests at heart.
I’m certainly not advocating turning into a crusty curmudgeon, although I have friends who think I’ve already crossed that threshold, but I have sufficient life experience now to know “once burned – twice shy” has some merit.
“Measure twice, cut once” – I’m liking the sound of this a lot. Be open, not naive, be approachable not totally accepting, be friendly not best friends upon an initial meeting with a new person. People reveal a lot about themselves unconsciously in their mannerisms, their speech, the stories they tell about their family and friends, their actions and the way they treat those over whom they have any degree of authority.
How do they treat their pets? How do they react to disappointments, adversity and the voicing of opinions that don’t match their own? So, observe what goes on around you – pay attention, listen and learn. Oh, and while you’re at it – remember the practical side of the adage and double check the window sizes before you order those expensive, California shutters!