When I was a high school senior, I signed up for speech class. I admit it was mostly because of the new, just out of college, gorgeous speech teacher. However, I learned a lot from her. I even learned discernment. Not because of my youthful infatuation, but because of her genuine desire to teach her students useable skills.
I overcame much of my poor diction, learned to project, and learned the importance of eye contact. Although I was not shy in front of an audience, I found these life skills to be priceless.
As an exercise for diction improvement, she had us memorize an old saying. Although it was not her intent, the saying eventually contributed to my aptitude for discernment.
He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool; shun him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child; teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep; wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise; follow him.
We can find all four types of these people in every business and organization. No one introduces himself this way, and you won’t find a label on their forehead. Sure, it would be easy if someone said, “Hello, I’m Ron and I am a fool,” but don’t count on it.
So, how do we know whom to shun, to teach, to awaken, or to follow?
You know by using discernment of character. Discernment is the ability to understand truth and see past what the eye and ear reveal. It is a valuable skill. Discernment is one of the attributes of maturity and wisdom. It gives you context—a quantitative and definable line in the sand between true and false, right and wrong. It serves as the ‘gut-check’, providing the internal green, yellow, or red light. It is like a scientist looking into a microscope and seeing the presence or absence of disease.
Recently an employee of one of my clients filed for unemployment compensation while still employed. When the documents arrived from the state requiring information from the employer, the business owner confronted the employee. The employee’s response was, “I thought I could collect from the system and that you wouldn’t find out.”
What have you, the reader, discerned about this employee? How would you respond to the situation?
Those possessing the sensitivity of discernment carefully decide the next move. They do not fall for people who are insincere, hasty, dangerous, or deceptive. They choose not to associate with fools and fakers.
Before you say, “But that doesn’t sound very compassionate!” read my blog, “Why You Should Hire Slow but Fire Fast.” If you’re the person responsible for hiring (and the one who has to deal with the productivity of the person hired), stop being so easily convinced. Be selective. Think more about the decisions you need to make. Exercise discernment!
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