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“Rashness succeeds often, still more often fails” (Napoleon Bonaparte).
WHEN WE FAIL TO LOOK AHEAD, WE OFTEN MAKE DECISIONS THAT CAUSE HARM — AND THEY’RE APT TO BE HARMFUL TO OTHERS AS WELL AS TO OURSELVES. To avoid the problems of rashness, we need to acquire a bit of “farsightedness,” the quality of thoughtfulness with regard to the future. None of us has a crystal ball that’s completely accurate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look a little distance beyond the present moment and adjust our conduct accordingly. It’s simply a fact that those who consider the likely consequences of their actions have less trouble in life than those who don’t.
One aspect of farsightedness is planning prudently for the future. This simply means doing what Harvey Mackay suggested in the title of one of his books: Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. Some people may go to an extreme here, obsessing about the future and refusing to spend any resource they fear they may need later on. But many of us have the opposite problem. We make no effort to anticipate future needs and provide for them in advance. We’re not as “provident” as we should be, and the quality of our lives suffers as a result.
You may not have thought of it, but one way to foresee the future is to take a long, hard look at the consequences of certain actions in other people’s lives. In the long run, none of us can beat the odds. When we see the law of cause and effect operating in someone else’s life, it’s foolish to think we’d get any different harvest if we sowed the same kind of seed. None of us is exempt from the law of the farm.
Laurence J. Peter liked to say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going to end up somewhere else.” Often, it takes no more than pausing to “stop and think” to see that where we’re going is not where we want to go. We don’t have to be fortunetellers or perfect prognosticators of the future to foresee that some actions are inadvisable. We just have to learn to press the pause button once in a while and consider the question of consequences. For every person who suffers from too much caution and too much conservatism, many more of us suffer from too little foresight. We need to become people who are known to be wise, shrewd, judicious, and thoughtful.
“The prudent man looks where he is going” (The Book of Proverbs).