May The Force Be With You!

There’s a story about a young man who was looking for answers to the big questions in life. Someone suggested he should study philosophy, so he visited a local university. The professor of philosophy looked him up and down. “I’ll teach you philosophy if you can answer the following question to my satisfaction.”

“There are two men. One is clean and one is dirty. I have one bath of water. Do I give the bath to the clean man or the dirty man?” The professor cautioned him to take his time and explain his answer. The student smiled at the ease of the question and, keen to impress his would be teacher, responded quickly, “You give the bath the dirty man as it’s important in life to make the best use of available resources.”

“That’s economics, not philosophy!” snapped the professor. “Look beyond the obvious.”

The student stared at the ground, scratched his head and racked his brains. He then had an insight. “We need to ask why one man is clean and the other is dirty. The clean man values cleanliness so you give the bath to him. If you give it to the dirty man he will just get dirty again.” Convinced he now had the right answer he looked up eagerly.

The Professor wasn’t impressed. “That’s psychology, not philosophy! Go away and come back when you’ve thought this out properly.” A few days later there was a knock on the professor’s door. There stood the young man, dishevelled with bloodshot eyes. “I have been thinking and thinking, I haven’t slept for three days and I am tired, frustrated and totally confused.”

The Professor beamed. “Welcome to philosophy!”

What to do when the answers aren’t clear

I shared this tale with a group of 80 international business leaders this week at a conference in Long Beach. My point was, while commercial logic and psychological insights are well and good, with some of the challenges we face in life we need to apply an additional dimension, a philosophical perspective if you like.

Sometimes inherent paradoxes and conflicting needs in a situation mean there is no clear, logical answer, no matter how hard we rack our brains. Sometimes the wisest approach is to put in the work and think it through as best we can. Then follow our conscience or intuition, with a belief there is a higher intelligence at work that will help guide our decisions and actions.

Some people think this is the highest level of our subconscious, some refer to it as our wise self, and some believe it has a spiritual source. Whatever your beliefs, with perseverance, goodwill and a bit of faith, things usually sort themselves out. In this sense, the ancient proverb, “Do your best and leave the rest to God” is apt, or if you prefer, “May the Force be with you!”

Copyright © 2018 Franchise Relationships Pty Ltd • Contact Us Company Privacy Statement