Confidence: When focus turns to folly

When does confidence turn focus into folly?  More importantly, how do you prevent it from happening to you?

As I’m writing this blog, news reports are coming in indicating that the Senate does not have the votes necessary to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  Most of us have lost count of the number of times the Republicans have tried and failed in this effort, although most news commentaries cite a number in excess of 40.

What your, and my, position on this issue is irrelevant. The question is “When does confidence become so misplaced as to be ridiculous, as it obviously is with Republican attempts?”


You know as well as I do how important focus is to our success…regardless of what we’re trying to accomplish.

Couple that focus with a realization that we’ve never failed to produce a result even when we’ve had no background and experience and you realize that you’re unstoppable.

The truth

That’s only true if you’re willing to alter your approach based on new information you receive.  Adapting your course of action based on what you’re learning is one of the key elements to the success that will inevitably be yours when you’re focused on the result you want.

It’s only when you ignore new information to the point of persisting in your current approach that your focus turns to folly.


That’s where I believe the Republicans are now.  Their focus is on repealing and replacing the ACA when what the American people really want is a more affordable health care system.  I’m not suggesting that this is going to be easy, but I believe that a change in focus could make it easier.  Here’s why.

When your focus is on demonstrating that you’re smarter than the other person (party), you limit the number of options you see.  It’s human nature.  When my goal is to prove that I’m smarter than you are, I cannot acknowledge the legitimacy of any aspect of your approach.

But when I’m focused on getting a result that doesn’t require that I be right and you wrong…and I embrace Colin Powell’s wisdom when he said “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”  Then there isn’t anything I can’t achieve…with your help.


In fairness to the Republican party, I’m know that there’s bias in the news reports just as there is in our perceptions, but what I don’t see in the Republicans’ behavior is a willingness to look at fixing rather than repealing and replacing ACA.

I don’t see evidence that anyone, Democrat or Republican, is asking “How are health care costs being covered now?”

Some costs are being covered by insurance premiums, some through our taxes in the form of medicaid, some by increased charges to insureds to cover the losses of those who can’t pay.  At the end of the day, we’re all paying in one way or another.

For those who are uninsured, they suffer poor health and its attendant costs as well as severe limitations to their employability due to their health and financial problems.

Those who are insured have suffered higher premiums with less coverage for decades.  In many cases their coverage doesn’t protect them from financial disaster as evidenced by the growing number of health-related bankruptcies.

If our congressional leaders we’re acknowledging the fact that preventative healthcare costs are significantly lower than fixing a health issue.  If they focused on how to make preventative care more affordable and created options that provided disaster relief for those unfortunate enough to experience severe health issues despite their effective use of preventative care, then they might come up with a solution that works for the vast majority of Americans.

Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  The people in Washington seem to be so focused on “being smarter” than the next guy that they don’t see the folly of their behavior.

For you

You can avoid having this happen to you by simply acknowledging the validity and legitimacy of the other person’s position.  When you feel yourself about to disagree with what someone is saying, pause, then ask yourself “What portions of what the person said makes sense?  What can I use to help bridge the gap between our two positions?”

I learned this lesson in college when my rhetoric teacher asked us to write a paper on any controversial issue that we wanted.  The follow-up assignment was to write the opposite position. 

This simple exercise opened my eyes to the fact that there is always validity to the other side’s argument.  It also opened my eyes to ways in which I could blend my thinking with that of the other person.  When I took that approach, together we produced a better result.

For our kids

Teach your kids this simple technique for maintaining an open mind.  At the same time, don’t forget that employing this technique regularly in your daily life is the best way to teach your kids the power of openness.

With this simple approach, you and your kids can avoid having focus turn to folly.

Follow dfurtwengler:

Latest posts from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *