157. It is folly to be too frank with impudent familiarity.
Here Publius Syrus reminds us of an important lesson we looked at a few days ago — to think before you speak. Don’t get too comfortable and familiar with those who wield power.
One part of this can best be summed up by Thumper — “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Another part is covered by Baltasar Gracian, in his timeless book The Art of Worldly Wisdom — “Speak prudently: cautiously to your rivals, and with dignity to everyone else. There is always time to utter a word, and never time to take it back.”
Gracian was a Spanish Jesuit philosopher who lived in the 17th century. His collection of maxims and truisms is not all that different from Publius’s, albeit written over 1,500 years later. He has been described as “Machiavelli with a soul,” and his writings are definitely worth checking out.
So let’s wrap up our breezy reflection on the folly of being too frank. Because it serves no purpose other than to scratch an impulsive itch to speak. To hear your own voice. As if you’re so important that what you have to say is always worth being said, let alone heard.
Offend the wrong person, and a door could be shut forever. Words spoken cannot be taken back. So choose your words carefully and with prudence, and that will help to move the meter.
Until next time,
P.S. — What does it mean to “move the meter?” Stay tuned to find out. We’ll get into that and much more soon…
It seems that Voltaire was right, and that common sense is becoming less and less common in these days of microbrews, microposts, and microaggressions. It’s time we remember how to live big, not think small. That’s what moving the meter is all about. A great way to start is to nourish your brain every morning with classic writings by great men, like The Art of Worldly Wisdom. Your future self will thank you.