Better To Be The Fool Or To Engage The Fool?

Mitchell gives me so much material!

One day he came home to share an experience at work. To get the idea, you need to know that Mitchell, 17 years old at the time, is a very introspective person. He loves to ask challenging questions. The purpose of his questions is not about seeking right answers; it’s about engaging thoughtful, positive conversation.

A recent question he came up with was something about if you were offered a huge amount of money – maybe $10,000,000 – but needed to come up with $1,000,000 in the next few weeks to get it, how would you do it? Many answers came – like robbing a bank (nice), trying certain quick turn investments, or working ridiculous hours (not sure how that would work). Yet, probably the best was simply seeking known friends and acquaintances who have money, guaranteeing each a 3 fold increase in a few weeks, and whala! It’s not meant to be a question to be chipped apart. Just take it at face value and think it through.

When he posed this question at work, they immediately started chipping. The two he posed it to began tearing this “winning” answer apart by changing things up, making assumptions, and just, really not playing the game right. “What if you don’t have friends with that kind of money?” (Get some!) “They wouldn’t give their share without something up front!” “What if the guy doesn’t pay in the end?” Really? Come on. 

Well, Mitchell was sharing this with me, along with his frustration in trying to argue and deal with these guys, when I finally asked Mitchell this question: Is it better to be the fool or to engage the fool? He got it right away.

Funny thing, though. A day or so later, the same two guys at work asked Mitchell if he had any more insightful questions. And I love his response. Mitchell said, “Yeah…I have one:  Is it better to be the fool or to engage the fool?” And then he smiled and walked away.

I don’t think they got it. But I sure loved that he asked it.