Episode 164- The Wise, The Foolish And The Evil

If you’ve listened to this podcast in a little bit, you know that I love books. I love talking about great books, I love promoting great books. And so much of what I’ve learned and grown from has been from reading these books. But occasionally, not only do you come upon a great book, but you come upon an incredible chapter. And I want to talk to you today about one of the most incredible chapters of a book that I’ve ever read. And the book is called necessary endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. And the chapter is chapter seven of that book. It’s called The Wise,The Foolish and The Evil. Identifying which kinds of people deserve your trust. No, I’m telling you, if you’re struggling with any relationships in your life, especially if they’re in your own family or close friends, you need to pick up this book and read this chapter.

And in this chapter he simplifies humans to three types of people. One, there’s wise people too. There’s foolish people, and three, there’s evil people. And what he tries to understand is we try to deal with people in a certain way, but you can’t deal with people in the same way. Evil people respond differently than wise people. Wise people or spend differently than foolish people. And when you can understand this and you could put them into their categories, it’s going to make your life and your relationships so much better. It’s also going to cause you to end some relationships. So let’s start with the why’s and the example that Cloud states in this is a CEO that was being challenged by one of his employees on things that he knew he needed to do differently and it’s cloud observed this, he was ready for this person to get fired and here was the CEO’s response.

“You’ve just given a great list of the things that I need to learn how to do to be a great CEO. Those are definitely my opportunities to grow. I’d like to get better in those areas. Can you guys help me?” ┬áThe CEO heard honest feedback on how he can do better, received it and wanted to grow. When people are willing to receive feedback he talked about and take ownership of where they need to grow. There’s hope because he was so open and honest. They all discussed the different things that could be done better. They came up with a structure and ideas. The CEO applied it and he’s now thriving in the role. Cloud says that’s because he’s wise, wise people learn from experience and make adjustments. He also says the person who ultimately does well is the one who can learn from his own experience or the experience of others.

Make that learning a part of himself and then deliver results from that experience base. To do that you have to be open to feedback and when they do this they learn and they actually get better from the feedback. The wise people in your life are always looking to grow and get better and they don’t run away from the truth. He also explains that why is does it mean the most talented, the brightest, the smartest or the most gifted? It also doesn’t mean the most charming or charismatic. As Cloud says, the mature meets the demands of life or the immature person demands that life meets her demands. And when you have a friendship with a wise person and they’re willing to do these things, your friendship actually gets stronger because you know they’re going to grow and get better and they trust you more because they know that they can count on you to tell them the truth.

Now let’s go to the foolish person. The foolish, Cloud says, rejects the feedback, resist it, explains it away, and does nothing to adjust to meet the requirements or assembly. The foolish tries to adjust the truth so he or she doesn’t have to adjust to it. The foolish person is never wrong. Someone else always is. So when you have a foolish person, you try to give feedback. It’s hopeless. So it makes no sense to keep giving it. And what happened when you have a person that will not take responsibility or have ownership of the feedback is that not only do they do harm to the cause, but everybody, but that person feels the effects of it. So everybody in their life will get frustrated and just like the wise aren’t always the smartest. Being foolish doesn’t mean they’re dumb. Often it’s the opposite, they’re very smart. They’re very good at being charming or manipulation and as you’ll see often with foolish people, they will consistently shift the blame to you or to somebody else instead of taking on themselves as their own fault.

Oftentimes also they’ll minimize it. They’ll say it’s not that bad, or it’s really not that big of a deal and the foolish are the kings of excuses. The other thing that was stunning as I read this and I’m telling you, reading this book helped me eliminate some relationships in my life, but when there are emotional responses, they weren’t about remorse at all. They weren’t about feeling bad. Instead they would get angry and they give responses like, “Oh, I guess I can do nothing right?” The foolish also don’t recognize the pain that you’re going through while you’re trying to bring this to them. These are the people that constantly view themselves as a victim. And the people who confront them are not helpful, but they’re persecutors and as Cloud said, their world is divided into the good guys and the bad guys. But the good ones are the ones who agree with them and see them as good.

And the bad ones are the ones who don’t see them as perfect. And the problem is the wise people that deal with foolish people think that foolish people think the same way they do. So they try to talk to them and they try to explain it to them and rationalize it, but there’s a disconnect because they’re not willing to change and they’re not willing to listen. So the hard thing to do is what he suggests to do, which is to stop talking. At least stop talking about the problem. And now what can we do about it? Basically, how can I give you feedback so that you’ll listen and do something about? And just so you know, the chances are that they’re going to respond exactly the same way. And if they’re unwilling to change, you’ve got to set your boundaries.

So if it’s something that you’re giving responsibility to, you’ve got to let them know that you’ve tried and they don’t change and it’s causing pain and problems. So we need to take that responsibility away. Or if what they’re doing is hurting you physically or emotionally, letting them know, I can’t do this anymore and if this happens, I’m going to leave. Or by telling them, if it’s in an environment with other people that if it continues that they’re going to have to leave. At this point, you simply need to protect what’s valuable to you. And often we’ll get to the point where you need to give consequences that will cause them to feel the pain of their choice to not listen. And what it really comes down to is you need to end the pattern. How many times have we all been through it where it’s the same cycle of the same conversation.

That was like having the conversation with the foolish person and all of us might’ve been there at some point. Maybe some of us are that person now, but if you’re dealing with that person, you have to end the pattern. The problem often when the fool is one of our kids that there will be consequences, but often the parent will suffer the consequences and the foolish person doesn’t feel a pain. So what has to happen is the consequences have to be shifted towards on them to feel the pain of the consequence. And as we’ve seen many times with foolish people, the only time they get it is when it starts to cost them something. When people start to feel the consequences of their actions, that’s when they realize that they need to perform. But as long as we feel the brunt of the consequences, they’re not going to change.

And then we’ve got the evil person. So too back to the wise people, we talk to them, we give them the resources and then you get a return. When you go to the foolish people. Cloud says we need to stop talking to them because they’re not listening and stop supplying resources because they’re squandering them. What they need are limits and consequences. And now with the evil people it’s a lot different. He said what we needed with them is lawyers, guns and money. Because when you’re dealing with the evil, you need to go into protection mode. And it sounds funny, but it’s not a joke that when it comes to the evil, that’s what you need are the lawyers, the guns and the money. Cause these are the people that are out to cause other people harm. And that’s where I learned a lot when I read this years and years ago.

It’s people that I thought were evil or actually foolish. The evil people are easier to recognize. They’re dangerous and destructive and they’re looking to cause harm. These are the people that want to destroy what you’ve built. They want to bring you down. So most simply the bottom line, he says, but the evil people, we need to stay away from them. We need to create the firmest protective ending that you can and get real help to do it. That could be from law enforcement, from lawyers, and whatever money you have to ensure that you stay safe. So that is an overview of this incredible chapter that taught me so much, and it really shaped me to want to look, to be with the wise people of the world, to avoid and eliminate the relationships with the foolish and to stay as far away as possible from the evil. And I highly encourage you to pick up this book necessary endings, Dr. Henry Cloud. It’s an amazing book and I know it’s going to help you and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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