May 19, 2000
By now there are a couple zillion books about
how to apply simple rules to our complicated lives. It started
with Robert Fulghum's best selling book: "All I Really Need
to Know I Learned in Kindergarten".
You know, things like: if you make a mess,
clean it up. Share with others. A nap does you good. All those
little life lessons that we forget as we get older.
Then there are those little "Don't Sweat
The Small Stuff" books everyone keeps beside their bed to
help put things in perspective.
The captains of industry don't want to be
left behind, so they have a slew of books on how to be a better
manager. I saw one recently - I kid you not - on how to run your
company the way Star Trek's Captain Picard ran the Enterprise.
I think they're all missing the best examples
of both leadership and how to simplify our lives. I of course
mean the Three Stooges. I'm thinking of writing a book called:
"All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching the Three
First of all, I'll admit that the Stooges
are pretty much just a guy thing. It's a recently discovered
scientific fact that the Stooge gene is only carried on the Y
chromosome. It's right between the ones that like monster truck
rallies and video games.
It's too bad, because there's a wealth of
wisdom both men and women can glean from Curly, Larry and Moe
(and, to a lesser extent, Shemp). To the casual observer they
might appear to be bumbling idiots bringing chaos into an otherwise
orderly world, but that would be a mistake. Their philosophy
has a Zen-like quality we can all benefit from.
Here's a sample:
Sometimes the only answer to a stupid question
is a poke in the eye or a slap on the head.
You don't need a lot of brains to succeed
- a hard head can open many doors that being smart can't.
The world is full of knuckleheads. You're
better off not realizing you may be one of them.
Being hit on the head with a hammer isn't
funny - unless it happens to someone else. Then, it's really
Enthusiasm sometimes counts for more than
If you intend to be a leader (like Moe) it
helps to surround yourself with people dumber than you - if you
can find them. Remember, you don't have to be smart to lead other
people, just marginally smarter.
Never doubt your own abilities, even when
all the evidence is to the contrary. This is reflected in my
own family motto: "Always Certain - Sometimes Wrong".
Painting someone's tongue black will be remembered
longer than a witty comeback.
In the wrong hands even the simplest task
can go horribly wrong (especially plumbing, pest extermination,
dog washing and baby sitting).
Even rich society women enjoy a good pie fight.
Dental care is unnecessary, as long as you
have a doorknob and a length of string. Or pliers and a firecracker.
And a friend willing to use them on you.
And always remember, physical pain goes away,
but laughter is forever.