Life Tip #87

Go ahead, be misunderstood.

I simply must drop one of my all-time favorite inspirational quotes right here and now. It comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of America’s greatest writers and philosophers, in his essay Self-Reliance, which I recommend everyone read…twice. Emerson writes that to be consistent in one’s thoughts and actions, just for consistency’s sake, is quite foolish. He calls such foolish consistency “the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Emerson instructs us not to feel guilty if tomorrow we contradict the thoughts and beliefs we hold today. Rather, “Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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