Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wisdom's Wares

Wisdom’s Wares

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.

President Woodrow Wilson

We have probably all been in those meetings where someone has an opinion, sometimes based on a personal experience or observation, and is eager to tell everyone for as long and in as many ways as possible, to the point of nauseous tedium, just to hear themselves talk. It seems that the brain stops long before the mouth.

Don't assume, however, that the person sitting and quietly listening without saying anything doesn't have an opinion and perhaps a very good one. As rare and as astonishing as it may seem sometimes, there are thinking people in the human race.

Everyone knows, of course, that children and teenagers don't have any opinions and don't think about anything but themselves. Or do they?

One day my boss asked me to put together a radio program involving some of the local high school students. I went home and thought about it, put together some ideas as to how it would work, figured out a blue print and a schedule.

Then I asked the only high school student I knew if he was interested in such a program. Since he enthusiastically was, I asked him to gather a small bunch of other students that he thought would like to do it and have a meeting with me.

At the meeting were about half a dozen youngsters. I spelled it all out for them, what the boss wanted, what I wanted and how I thought the program should operate and sound like. When I was finished explaining it all to them I said "So what do you think?"

What happened next surprised me. Temporarily ignoring me, they went into a caucus. They tossed around some ideas, agreed, disagreed, conceded and finally came up with a plan that was better than mine. So I set up a training session to teach them about radio and shortly after that the show was on the air.

After that first meeting I spoke to the boy I knew and I told him how surprised and pleased I was that they all seemed to jump in with good ideas without waiting for me to prompt them. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said "Nobody ever asks us what we think."

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