The Emerson Rule

For over 25 I’ve lived by what I call The Emerson Rule.

I said it – believed it – acted on it yesterday with passion – doesn’t mean it’s true for me today. With new information comes new understanding.  I grant myself permission to redefine what I think and who I am; I accept the risk of being misunderstood. 

This imperative for living sprouted after reading Emerson’s essay Self-Reliance:

Ralph Waldo Emerson“The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them…

… A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — `Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

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