New ideas are always met with ridicule because they go against our previously held notions and beliefs. Ridicule is not about expressing disagreement. In many cases, it involves exhibiting outright hostility and persecution towards the bearer of the new idea. I met with author Bernie Petrina who pointed out that sometimes we choose to ridicule differences in opinions by making them the brunt of jokes, making personal attacks, and self boasting about how smart our “side” is. This useless reaction seems to have taken a deep root in our society and becomes more acceptable every day.
Oscar Wilde said that, “Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.” Ridicule is an activity that is as old as mankind. Visionaries or geniuses implicitly know this but understand their vision trumps ridicule. Now don’t get me wrong. I definitely think disagreeing with someone whose ideas you are at odds with based on beliefs, facts, or principles is every individual’s right. What I’m talking about is how I choose to express that disagreement, or how I choose to react to those who ridicule me.
Self control is an admired trait. Displaying a lack thereof is the stuff media sound bites, YouTube videos, and “foot in mouth” disease is made of. Be aware that as a leader ridicule is often the very first response to your new ideas. The sooner you realize this, the better prepared you will be. You won’t be surprised at the responses from people, even the responses from your second in command or spouse! We can watch how we express ourselves when a new idea is presented and we can also stay positive when ridicule is hurled our way; and we can take hope in Lord Chesterfield’s words, “Ridicule is the best test of truth.”