In addition to being a good-looking, sweet woman, my wife is one of the smartest people I know. She graduated with honors from college, was recruited and hired by a big-eight accounting firm and beats me like a puppy in any two-person card game we play. However, she is geographically challenged.
Early in our marriage, we were flying from Dayton to Orlando when Terri, who was sitting by the window, nudged me and asked, “How long does a lake have to be before it becomes a river?” I was surprised how someone as smart as Terri wouldn’t know the difference between a river and a lake. That’s when I began to realize that just because someone doesn’t know one thing, doesn’t mean that they don’t know anything.
Another incident that lent to that understanding occurred at a restaurant when one of the group I was with said, “I wonder what is the soup du-jour?” A female acquaintance sitting next to her immediately responded, “I wouldn’t order it, I had it last week and it wasn’t very good.” My immediate thought was, “What a dummy.” That was my opinion until I learned that she was a published author and teacher of the year.
People have different temperaments, talents and interests; what’s important to one person may be of no concern to another. For example, I love maps. If we are traveling, I’m not happy until I have studied and memorized our route. Terri could care less about maps or directions; they mean nothing to her. However, she’s a bulldog when it comes to solving a complex, accounting problem.
The converse of the preceding is also true.
I was an executive at a corporation that hired a consultant to design and write a software program to manage some of out activities. He was brilliant. His program saved us countless hours and thousands of dollars. Reviewing his work, the president of the company offered him the position of chief financial officer. It only took a couple of months before we were in the midst of a disaster because our CFO didn’t know a debit from a credit and was too proud to ask for help. That’s when I first learned that just because someone knows one thing, doesn’t mean that he or she knows everything.
I don’t know how many times I have heard the phrase, “You only have one opportunity to make a first impression.” It’s true. However, it’s a mistake to judge someone by your first impression: just as it’s a mistake to assess a person’s abilities by their knowledge or lack of knowledge about any single thing.
“You can’t judge a fish by lookin’ in the pond
You can’t judge right from lookin’ at the wrong
You can judge one by lookin’ at the other
Oh, can’t you see…whoa, you misjudged me
I look like a farmer but I’m a lover
You can’t judge a book by lookin’ at the cover.” – Bo Diddley