“He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” – Proverbs 18:13
What steps of preparation do you take before making a major decision in your life? In my case, if confronted with that question, I’m afraid the answer would too often be either “jumping the gun,” or “jumping to conclusions.” Like the time I was so excited about a certain job offer that I refused to listen to those who warned me against it, nor did I pay attention to the warning signs that in retrospect should have been obvious if my vision had not been clouded by my ego, ambition, and financial greed. I jumped the gun instead of listening and investigating the facts, much to my own folly and shame.
The late J.C. Penney (1875-1971), founder of the department store chain bearing his name, was said to have had a unique method of checking out candidates he was interviewing for executive positions for tendencies to jump the gun or jump to conclusions. This became known as the “salt test;” for when selecting new managers, he would often take the candidates out to lunch where he had a cardinal rule, those who salted their food before tasting it did not get hired.
It has been suggested that there are three basic principles to making sound decisions: (1) get the facts before answering; (2) be open to new ideas; (3) make sure you hear both sides of the story before judging. All three of these principles center around seeking all the information possible before making a decision or passing judgment. And what great preventative measures they are to avoid the mistake of jumping the gun or jumping to conclusions, no doubt the characteristics Mr. Penney was digging for through the “salt test” with the candidates he was interviewing.
As one who is not in the habit of reaching for the saltshaker, I might have been lucky enough to have passed Mr. Penney’s salt test. Yet, just last evening I ordered a cup of gumbo in a restaurant of which I tasted not a single drop without first dousing it with several liberal shakes from a Tabasco sauce bottle. Hmm! Haven’t I learned anything from the job blunder I made those many years ago? “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame,” according to the Proverb writer. It is a great reminder to all of us when facing the question, what steps of preparation do you take before making a major decision in your life? Follow the three principles, or jump to conclusions?