Every human being who has ever lived has wished they had a perfectly charted course for success in any given endeavor. Many in the world make millions writing, teaching, and distributing what they believe is the answer to the dilemmas and challenges of life.
Recently I read a quote by Malcolm Forbes from 1975:
“The Forbes Dart Fund was established in 1967 by throwing 28 darts at the stock listings of the New York Times. In the June 1 issue a progress report was made; the fund continued to do better than the experts and to elicit assorted comments. From an investment executive at Shearson Hayden Stone comes this query: “we are considering the same strategy. We are wondering if you used the safety suction type dart and were allowed to select any stock within the confines of its perimeter? Or were you really that pin-pointy?””
When I read this I howled with laughter. Over the years, it has appeared to me that many so called experts were really self serving toward their own greed or cause. This is not a slap against the possibility of obtaining expertise and the perfectly charted course for success. Really, it’s more of a statement that we can all become the captain of our own ship.
Let me bring this thought into relevance. A man by the name of J. Reuben Clark, Jr. expressed his fascination regarding a great debate between Webster and Senate President Robert Hayne- two giants of his day. They were having a great debate in which Hayne of South Carolina interpreted the Constitution as little more than a treaty between sovereign states and Daniel Webster expressed the concept of the United States as one nation. Webster replied to President Hayne regarding some fundamental issues of the day pertaining to constitutional law. The opening paragraph reads:
“Mr. President: When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and, before we float farther on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are….”
Sometimes, in this highly instantaneous informational world with opinions flying like snow in a blizzard, we need to pause to determine the place from which we started and gain our bearings as we proceed forward. I’m still a believer in obtaining continuous education and seeking direction rather than just “throwing the dart.” But regardless of where we want to end up, we better know where we began.