Saturday, January 23, 2016

23. Naive Pragmatism

I did not expect to find sage advice from Forrest Gump. After re-watching the movie last night, I realized that he is just about one of the best examples of a new way of approaching things that I am trying out.

I’ll back up. I don’t like drama. I don’t like conflict. I don’t like petty grudges. (Although I am usually a pretty bad offender when it comes to holding them. Still, I do not like them.) I’ve been in a lot of new situations lately with a job and meeting new people.

One of the worst, most poisonous things you can do to a person in a new situation is to hurl your opinions of people or places on them. This sounds counterintuitive, of course you want to give advice and be helpful, but when you try and paint someone else’s picture with your own brush, I think it can lead to bad results.

For example, in my last job as a sports reporter, there was a certain coach that a few other staff members were not too fond of. There was an event where he raised his opinion about something and that stuck with those staff members. I don’t blame either person for feeling the way they did, but I felt weird accepting their opinions on face value.

I got to know the coach, and lo and behold, I actually grew to like him. He was a very good coach, probably the best one in the area. His practices were always organized and I was impressed with the discipline of his team. (That didn’t necessarily transform into good quotes, but we had a good relationship.) I’d rather get to know someone and dislike them, instead of disliking them from some other person’s experience.

I finally figured out a name for this. I call it naive pragmatism. (I originally thought I’d call it pragmatic naivety, but then I realized the other way around is much more easy to say.

And then when I was watching the movie Forrest Gump. Gump, in terms of intelligence, is an idiot. Or at least that’s the conventional view of him. But he does what he’s told and just does what he think his right. For example, when he’s in the army, he sits down next to a black man on a bus and they go on to become “best good friends.” He sees a man who was kind to him and just rolls with it. He didn’t let the prejudices of his time affect his view on things.

I like how Forrest just does what needs to be done without really considering what opinions of things people had formed before him. It serves him well being a football player, war hero, businessman, runner, etc.

I wish more people just wanted to go in and get things done, especially those running for president right now. Don’t paint people as boogeymen or scapegoats. Life is too short for that. Just get the job down and run Forrest, run.

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