“If you don’t want to win, no one will stop you.”

Go to any Hooter’s restaurant, there’s a guy in there who thinks the waitress is attracted to him. Did ya see that? Did you see how she was looking at me? I’m gonna get her phone number, just watch!

Sure, uh huh.

Reality is no match for a good fantasy.

So what’s the point?

The point is stupidity is easy, cheap and enjoys endless reservoirs of hope.

But, wisdom is scarce and expensive and requires a pre-investment.

We choose between them, every hour of the day.

My wife is a Russian immigrant. She explained to me what it was like to stand in line during the Soviet Union times with virtually zero choices, then come to America and walk into any store and be stunned with choices.

The impact is visceral. Physically felt as a stun.

She came to the US nine years ago. Since then, have we more choices? How many more choices? Probably 100 times more, maybe a thousand times more. The Internet offers perhaps the largest increase in choices in history.

A thousand times more advertisements, newsletters on top of newspapers, news websites on top of TV news, articles on top of magazines, spam on top of junk mail, blogs on top of everyone you know talking. Only you can decide who to pay attention to. A thousand times more ways to spend or invest your money. A thousand times more opportunities to screw up and more opportunities to succeed.

How do you choose?

With a rare word:

dis·cern·ment (dĭ-sûrn’mənt) n. Keenness of insight and judgment.

Wise people research history and read the original sources. Fools will check on the latest buzz.

Wise people research both online and offline.

Wise people go to the library and look through old books.

Fools suppose that if it isn’t on the first page of their search results, it doesn’t exist.

Wise people know that education costs money.

Fools think, “Information wants to be free.” If information is defined that way, and there is no personal cost to make use of it, then free information isn’t really information after all, is it?

Wise people focus on timeless principles. Fools focus on quick tricks.

Wise people understand principles are simple and techniques are complex. Fools think techniques are simple and just using them brings success. They aren’t bothered with understanding the underlying principles.

The wise do things right the first time. Fools never do it right the first time, but they find a way to do it over again, again, and again.

Wise men think three or six or ten chess moves ahead and consider the long-term consequences. Fools think only of the immediate benefit.

When a wise person gets criticism from other wise people, they ask, “Is there anything else I should know?”

What you can do is keep this little list in mind:
· Be aware of the distinctions, begin thinking about them and noticing them, because the critical lessons are refreshing with every decision you make.
· Always look for an association with wise people, and keep your distance from people who seem to be fouling up their lives making poor choices. You can’t help them anyway.
· Find and draw out sound advice, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or conflicts with your first choice.
· Disregard the media hype, the imagery and celebrity buzz, emotional pleas and lock onto the quiet, calm voice of reason.
· Watch Jerry Springer’s show, ready to take notes. Compile a list of every expression, mannerism, gesture, impulse and motive you see, and expunge those characteristics from your life. Then, don’t ever watch Jerry Springer again.

I doubt that anyone can sit down and just teach you to be wise. I’m unaware of any seminars to acquire this critical 21st century skill in an exciting, fun-filled weekend getaway.

But the prospects of maintaining or improving your standard of living will depend on this skill, because just as change has come fast and furious lately it looks to get even faster in the years to come.

We’ll be doing our best to sift though the mass of information and get the precious gems posted for you.


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