Meritocracy

There are certain reactive buttons hit regularly by politicians and establishment figures most particularly in liberal democracies in The West, when they are on the stump or speaking publicly on communications media.  ‘Equal opportunities’ is one; ‘nurturing diversity’ is another – you know the kind of thing.

‘Meritocracy’ is one of these signifiers, and it is used chiefly as a self-justification for the public standing of the establishment figures who use and advocate the concept.

The first question springs vividly to mind: Would you take the word of a chief executive of say Microsoft that Microsoft hardware and software are always the best available on the market? You might, but life-experience teaches you quite quickly that this sentiment is probably, in part at least, a sales pitch, a personal loyalty to a corporation, a partial and biased assessment of the field of electronic communications products.

Now the meritocracy are our leaders; and they would have to allow, our betters, since our democracy is a ‘meritocracy’ and they are the top people in it. And we are often awed into prima facie belief in what they say and lay claim to, simply because they are our leaders.  Psychologically, the argument is circular.

Similarly their claims to their comprising the top people in a democratic meritocracy constitute a circular argument, but a logically circular one: they are the best because they are at the top and are at the top because they are the best.

They are though in the position of the Microsoft chief executive – what else would,should, could they say; what else should they lay claim to being?  Their acquiescence in their common presumption is self-evident.

How should we approach unpacking this idea of meritocracy so as to see it and to show it for its substance and constitution? Where might we begin that is solid ground on which to weigh and consider?

Let us try this. A great besetting sin in many if not most of us at some time or another in our lives has been our sense of pride and our self-love.  In states of mind like this we are most liable to attribute to ourselves qualities and successes which are in a cooler light of day, as much, if not more so, fortuitous, and the fruit of happenstance, than they are acquired or inherent.

Undoubtedly the most easy prey to these self-deceptions is the intelligent person.  Every day the experience of one person scoffing at another, ridiculing another, is a commonplace, even in public life.  It is one of the easiest routines is to ridicule and disdain a person, to impute him or her dim-witted is an epidemic and widespread below the belt blow.

‘I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.’

Yet what basis has a person to be impugned as a dimwit; and conversely, what basis is there for a smart guy to be lauded and made much of – for their brains or for their lack of them?

For the most part the brains we are equipped with we are dealt as our hand of cards by fate or chance or destiny.  There is only so much you can do with house wine; it will never taste like Brut or Soave. So why is the dim-witted guy the butt of so many of our schadenfreude digs and jibes? Are we really superior when we are being superior in this way? Are we not denigrating ourselves in the face of honest incapacity?  Should we not be a support, a helper to the person who finds brain work arduous and difficult?  Rather than lord it over her/him or kick her when she’s down?

The guys who lay claim to the top places in the world are almost exclusively those whose work or occupation is carried out by the use of their minds.  But why should these guys lay claim to that space as being the meritocracy, or a meritocracy, by virtue of their brainpower?

Undoubtedly many at the top do lay claim to their positions by way of extolling their own intellectual brilliance – this is evident again and again in their values and the airs they adopt.  Yet can they lay claim to their intelligence as being a character attribute; something they have achieved or created by their own efforts?  And besides, so many substitute in their apprehensions the character attribute of craftiness and skulduggery for intelligence without them realising they are doing so. Just look at our politicians.

No, there is no merit in being intelligent; nor no shame in being dim-witted.  There is only misplaced self-pride in the one and a vulnerability to be shouldered in the other.  And this is why The Lord places love at the centre of this world and of God’s creation; and does not concern himself at all in his teaching with brilliance of wit or with intellectual inability to grasp.

St Matthew tells of Jesus effusing a hymnal paean of praise to God about this dispensation:

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike’

 The whole order of creation is turned over and reversed in this teaching: The last become the first;  it is foolish to count oneself wise; and wise to be a fool for God; the humble shall be exalted and the exalted humbled; the least shall be the greatest; the Prince of Heaven becomes The Servant of all.

But chasing the dream of position and place, of consequence and consideration, is the delusion of the ambitious; their label of attainment through merit pinned to their lapel as a badge of honour is their Scarecrow diploma and their Lion medal.  So why should we be obeisant and so recede to allow them gangway?

And what should be credited with merit, if it is not brains and intelligence? To whom do we do honour?  We do honour to the man and woman of good character; she who has engaged, learned, regarded;  and so instructed herself with the aim of better conducting herself as a human being among human beings.  One who has foregone gains and the putting of oneself forward, who makes no self-recommendations and is indifferent to the prizes of pomp and ceremony. She who like her Master acknowledges that at bottom there are to be no respecters of persons other than for their behaviour, character and conduct before God and man.

‘Wherefore I say unto you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little’

There is a lot of illusion to the world. From the hype of TV drama and advertising, to the aura surrounding movie stars and sports personalities, and the lure of designer branding and products, precious metals, money and jewellery; faraway exotic places and art and artists, music, bands, magnates: all idols with feet of clay and hands of lead.  In some sense, with regard to the people engaged in the meritocracy event, they are the victims of their own imaginations. They are those who lack and are in need of a sure foundation and secure place from which to see and weigh things as they are in truth, without the glamour of bewitchment coming before their eyes and prerforming shadow shows and lantern slides of antic absurdities before them.

Prising out the Detail

How many times must – no it’s not Bob Dylan – how many times must a developer have to prise the information s/he needs out of clients – just so as to be able to offer a reasonably ballpark estimate for the works required?

There is the sort of client who writes an opening correspondence to you, possibly in reply to your approaching him in a bid for a job he has on offer; who appears open and accommodating, chatty and sociable, but who leaves ‘elephants in the room’ within his writing.

He will be very approachable but will gloze over those very parts which ought to give you substantive information about the work he is offering you and how much work it might be.  He might omit what goods or services he is trading in.  Or whether he wants an old site to have a makeover or instead wants a new site built from scratch.  What functionality he expects. And so on, so that when he ends with ‘please give me an exact price for this work’ you feel like throwing your hands in the air and calling upon the cloud to envelope you.

Another kind of stalling happens when a correspondent takes a very distant and formal stance in his writing. His writing might be in the third person usually, and he uses passive tenses a lot ‘there shall be…’ and ‘parties can expect to…’ and so on? Or his writing is mean, very short on warmth and showing signs of suspicion and doubt about his correspondent; yourself.

Of course when a prospective client is all at sea and is not a technical person then a lack of a reasonable requirement missing from his approach is not surprising nor is it culpable.  And when this type of client ‘comes clean’ and so throws himself on your expertise, and admits he knows little about what he wants; one can warm to his sense of self which is honest and even trusting.

The guys who know a bit about developing are sometimes cagy and like an oyster or a clam difficult to open up about their needs. I have known guys send six or seven exchanges of mail before they have proposed that they send an NDA and Confidentiality Agreement so that you can sign and they might begin saying exactly what it is they are wanting from you. It’s part of building the trust, the relationship, between you; only there seem to be quite a few guys out there whose instinct is to fear the worst and to prepare themselves for a long siege.

The classic case of this kind are the guys like those who insist the moon landings never took place; or those who insist that the earth is flat; or those who fear science because it appears to them to be a threat to their beliefs.  Once one has entrenched oneself so deeply in one of these positions, so that one cannot see over the top of the parapet, and so you do not know whether the enemy might or might not be there in front of you, but you are too deep in and too cautious to peep over the top and see for yourself; when this is your mental outlook, your default mode, upon the other guys (the enemy?) who share in the business sector you yourself are in; or provide services used by it; then most often you will fulfil your own worst fears because your distrust and withholding of data allowing gaping omissions, will generate wariness and suspicion wherever it is received.

Of course these guys holding back stuff are scared you are going to run off with their baby. But it would always be better for them, and us, to be up front about this fear and let it come to life and into presence, so that one’s honesty and straightforwardness cannot be placed in doubt.

And thus in addition any initial exchanges between you and a client retain their integrity, and the correspondence remains full open with parties knowing exactly the situation, and whereabouts they stand within it.

Likewise there is another side to this kind of coin, when a client in a different kind of hidden agenda appears to be seeking professional help and advice but not offering you any work or payment for it. I guess you can call it fishing or angling.  The usual strategy is to creep. That is to begin innocuously with a reasonable query and a tentative work offer; but thereafter to add detail and pose queries about a project, and bit by bit a developer’s return correspondence carries on getting more and more like a specification or a requirement document.

The upshot is, when you get sucked in and offer too much; the guy usually walks.

Now both these type of guys; those who want to do their best to hide uncomfortable facts from you; and also those who want to pump you for as much information as they can get without paying; both types of guy are messing the pitch for the more open and honest guys, who, if deception happens too often, all get tarred with the same brush of suspicion. And so business trust, so important for making money for all of us, deteriorates.

Both these types of guys are also not usually out-and-out villains; they are not scheming underhand dogs. Most often they are scaredycats – afraid someone is going to rob them usually – either of their intellectual property (a business idea or a patentable scheme) or of their money (who fear developers are like those stalls and stores which do not display price lists and so are hiding their prices so as to land a haymaker of a bill on a guy after the fact of purchase) – they fear being overcharged and so want the info to be able to do it themselves on the cheap.

There’s also a certain amount of parsimony and insidious intent with these guys as well, but usually they don’t consciously realise this is the case and would probably try to justify their lack of openness to themselves by way of placing blame on some past bad experiences or on their having a general and ingrown distrust of business people.

And of course, there are guys out there who would steal their IP and who would fleece them of money had they half a chance; but it is a matter of faith in general in the majority of humanity which is the basic question here.  There was a great moralist who lived during the 18th century, Dr Samuel Johnson, who was heard to say once that it was his opinion that;

Most people are not wicked; but they only need reminding now and again of their social and behavioural duties towards others, and of the legitimate expectations others are entitled to assume from them.

This seems to me to be a good and useful general rule.  So speak as you find. When a correspondence is good, say so; when bad; say so. There are ways of letting a person know without offending that you do not feel they are being open enough. Call a spade a spade – but gently.

Bells and Whistles

There are old sayings I like to refer back to and which do illustrate well the topics I have been choosing lately. The adages for today are:

‘Don’t spoil the ship for a hap’orth of tar’

‘Do less; achieve more’

‘Don’t fiddle while Rome burns’

‘Know when to call it quits’

The first saying is about cutting corners and saving a few cents here and there, and thereby scuppering in the process the whole deal.  I’ve talked before about the master masons who built the English and French Cathedrals in an age without electricity and smart technology; when everything was done by hand and assisted by simple lifting and shaping engines – The rope pulley and the steel chisel, and a lot of hard and finely-concentrated work.

These guys, the master masons, even though every stone to carve or to shape was a day’s work; yet still you can today climb to the clerestory of Exeter or Lincoln, or Chartres or Amiens, and take with you your battery torch so that you can shine it in places which have not seen light since the twelfth or thirteenth century up there in the gods.  There will be revealed carvings and workmanship every bit as astonishing and beautiful as that which grabs the limelight far below in the aisles and the chantries where the tourists flow and flock.

These guys knew God’s eye was on them wherever whatever they were doing; but not as a Giant Thunderer ready to strike them down for doing shoddy work; rather as a God of love and mercy for whom all work in His service deserved the same devotion to be sent back to Him regardless whether men and women we able to see its splendid majesty.  Thus as for the Romans so for the masons: ‘laborare est orare’ – work is prayer. And even their names have been lost to us.

And who is to say one is not rewarded for paying such minute dedication and care to one’s service?  The guy with a good conscience towards his/her clients sleeps well.

There are riders to impounding too much work into a task though.  There is in the study of economics a term known as ‘The Law of Diminishing Returns’.  This law says that upon the optimum of a goods or service being made available on the marketplace, the very next item of goods or service made and offered loses value and thereafter the curve of value descends on the graph as and when more and more items hit the marketplace.  The lesson is that once you have achieved your optimum level, then to carry on adjusting and adding and tinkering, trying too hard generally is to lose one’s efficiency and efficacy; and the end product begins to deteriorate.   The guys who say ‘Give up whilst you’re winning’ and ‘Leave them wanting more’ do not offer their wisdom for no reason.

There’s a variation on overmuch tinkering goes on now and then. This oddity occurs when you find a person caught in a cul-de-sac and hammering hard at it all day on a trifle; a thing of no consequence, so that all his/her energies are absorbed and concentrated on the wrong focus.  Who can tell why this happens to us?  Sometimes we just won’t be beaten; sometimes it’s a mater of silly personal false pride; sometimes it’s just what Freud calls ‘repetition compulsion’ in us; or sometimes its just a mind block and the dawning on us that we are squandering time and resources needlessly has yet to happen.  Matthew Arnold a scholar of the Victorian Age in Britain – had a good tip to help us asses the situation when we get caught up like this.

He felt that we should ‘stand back to see the whole clearly and as it really is’.  He suggests then that we mentally withdraw ourselves from our mundane task we are caught up in, and take stock; in order to consolidate in our thoughts exactly whereabouts we are with our work or our situation.

The vital thing to be able to master in all of these pitfalls is the knowing when the moment to stop digging deeper the hole we are in has arrived. Like the sound of a buzz saw in the distance as you sit at your desk busy working, it fills your ear but you are not aware it is doing so, and it grates and niggles but you still don’t realise the cause. Then it suddenly shuts down and stops. The air seems to clear and freshen and you look up from the keyboard with anew sense of relief as you realise the full mind trap you were in because of that saw.  Another example of the same is depression.  One does not generally understand one has been in a depression until one has come out of it. Only persons who are practiced depressives have learnt the knack of being able to identify a depression whilst still in one.

The fact remains that realising the moment has come for one to halt, to take stock, to move on, to have a think, to clear your head, but of a certainty to stop – this moment goes past us so easily, and the lesson is that we have to teach ourselves how to pick it out and identify it as it arrives. Then we do not surface from the deeps two days later having lost that two days and some of our morale as well –  at the realisation of having lost them.

Like all trigger moments and handy pointers – like clock alarms and shift whistles which blast out at the right times daily monthly yearly – a person is able to train him/her self to act like a clock or a shift whistle – able to employ habitual routines to good advantage.

We all have our bad habits – ask your partner. How did we accrue them? – subliminally, by unnoticed repetition of them way back.  So we can use this against the demon possession in us that drives us onwards even when it is a hopeless cause to go on or when the ship has sailed.  Getting the first hook to hang the habit on is the hardest – it can be a strenuous act of will to accomplish. But like after the first week of not smoking things become easier each day henceforth once the wagon has begun to roll.

It won’t be too long before Dr Kawasaki’s Brain Training is riding sweet as a nut and your self-coerced and new good habit is functional and providing results.  And it’s a buzz to know that you have achieved the self-discipline required to accomplish such a feat. Not too much of a buzz though, because Augustine tells us ‘Do not presume; one thief was damned; do not despair; one thief was saved’. What I mean is that one should not crow over oneself; nor should one belittle oneself, but a middle way, in media re, is ever the place to aim for. Like Alice and the cake; she took too big a bite and grew too big for the doorway; then took too little and was too small to reach the key on the table.

Then, and lastly, although this subject deserves a page or a chapter or two to itself, do try always to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. When you’re writing anything to anyone is especially the time when always this is the best advice to heed.  The great Robert Burns wrote:

‘Ah, would some god the giftie give us

To see ourselves as others see us’

And Alexander Pope:

‘The perfect judge will read each work of wit

With that same spirit which its author writ’

And the Master of All

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Standing One’s Ground

There is ever a temptation, especially when work is coming in too slowly, at times of the year like January when Christmas is spent out and clients’ resolutions to be more prudent are still in force, and potential clients are nursing hangovers and servicing debts incurred last year; for a guy or a gal to consider lowering standards to make doing business more attractive to would-be to clients.

One searches around looking for those places whereabouts corners can be cut and quick fixes will do; in fact looking to expunge the very items on which a self-respecting developer rests his true satisfaction and good repute.

The advice here is then: hold the line and persevere.

Of course when one is starving and the creditors are knocking at the house door this seems, and probably is, next to impossible advice to accept.  Like King Richard III on the field of Bosworth, one in this situation is likely to agree that ‘a horse; a horse; my kingdom for a horse!’ is the right kind of tactic.  The old adage says: ‘Needs must when the devil drives’; and again ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.

Though if you have some means yet to keep the wolf from the door it is better, I would argue, to retain your normal fixed rates per hour and your pricing standards per job; to keep ploughing at those little significant but unheralded niceties and lubricants to the projects you do; making them run sweetly and quietly impressing your clients to boot.

One not only retains one’s will to live; and one’s will to live to one’s own standards; but there is no regret; nor no hill to climb back up to for you, from where you descended to so as to barter away quality for quick cash.

What my friend and colleague does in the event of austere times is to retrieve his full list of known and trustworthy contacts; friends, business people, family, well-wishers; all – and then he circulates amongst them a round robin mail explaining that need presses him and asking whether they, or else anybody among their acquaintance, and whom they can refer him to, is in need of work being done.

Now this might look like, or even faintly taste of throwing oneself upon charity; or worse; begging.  There are some major things to say about this concern.

The request in the round robin is for procuring work; and ever ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire’ – always.  Remember there is no cut-price cut-corners offers involved of your asking to do works for clients – at this stage.   You retain all your appurtenances and business regimen. You have changed your tack and approach just a little- from a more passive absorption of work and clients as they arrive on your desktop; to a more active seeking for work. It may be less of a wrench to change tack in this way for some rather than for others.  If you are one of the ones it is a wrench for, then it is to you I need to put the following narrative most clearly.

The great national bard of Scotland, Robert Burns, was dying, at the age of 37, of the physiological after-effects on his heart of him having contracted rheumatic fever as a boy, possibly from the necessity of his family causing him to have to go out and plough the fields on his father’s farm, with a horse and team, and at an age when his strength was not fitted to this arduous work.  He was in is last days taking the icy waters of the Firth of Forth on the North Sea coast, in January, at which time in Scotland, temperatures are well bellow freezing. This was on his doctor’s advice.

Burns was hoping that the waters would cure him, or at least preserve his life for a time. He was in fact days away from his death day and his taking the waters was in fact hastening that day.

During these final days he was broke, and in debt to quite a few and belligerent creditors.  He twice in these final days had received threats of imprisonment for debt from two separate persons he owed to; and twice he had found himself compelled, for the sake of his family and his own survival, to write letters to friends asking for a ten pound note each time, so that he was not thrown into prison to die in squalor.

Prisons in those days: well, San Quentin and Guantanamo are parties compared to them.  Many persons imprisoned for debt did not see daylight again but spent their lives incarcerated.  Many died prematurely because unless one’s relatives and friends brought in food to you daily, you starved.  Cells were not heated, exposed to the elements, never cleaned; there were no public conveniences (bathroom facilities); it was a waking nightmare and few survived.

Added to this Burns was a man who owned a seriously proud an extremely upright sense of honour; as gentlemen of the time did as a matter of course.  One is able to read his final letters asking for the £10 notes; they are extant.  As one reads them one feels so very acutely how hard and humiliating it was for him to have to write them. They are short and to the point, and full of sorrow and reluctance about the situation he has been forced into by circumstances. They are pitiful.

£10 was a good sum in those days (1786).

Here was a man like whom no person in Scotland at the time, and maybe since, has produced, or could produce, such fine quality works produced in such abundance, and such as have lasted, and will continue to last, as long at Lowland Scots English can be read and spoken.

Ask any Scots woman or man living today whether had they had £10 and they could have sent it by return post to Burns upon his request; if they would not have been willing to send £100, or £1000, or £10,000; and some people among them more; just to give him some succour, some comfort, at that terrible time.  And if they would have been able to send him a doctor; or otherwise to assist in prolonging his life a little; they would have found the best doctor their money could afford, or used any means remotely plausible, the save or prolong his life.

200 years have passed since then; and time passing and history emerging offers us all hindsight and focus.  Burns might have been abominably humiliated by his, what I would judge, misplaced strong sense of pride and respectability, at having to ask for money from friends; but his friends knew him; knew his humiliation and pain; and gladly gave him what he asked. No more; because more displays the unwanted condescension of superior pity; no less; because he had asked for that specific £10 amount exactly.  They respected his plight and his sense of honour.

Although I say Burns’ pride was misplaced in my opinion; the extreme opposite; showing no sense of pride at all and abjectly cravenly to beg and plead unbeseeemingly, no-one admires nor can tolerate, unless danger is very immediate and powerful; and the abjection is thus caused by the severe heat of a moment.

But generally persons who continually come across to us as ever exploiting their ‘neediness’ are difficult to like and hard to help with a goodwill.

So, strike that balance. Remember: ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire.’ Always

You don’t have to take shit simply because you are on your uppers; and you don’t need to invite it by you throwing away, casting to the wind, that self-esteem you can always fall back; on knowing in yourself that you have given your best shot; so that your sense of self-worth tells you that, for better or for worse, you did not let down at any time your nearest and dearest, nor even yourself.

Climbing back up the hill after opting for such a descent is arduous and can be cruelly difficult.

Proving Oneself in Business

In business one of the hardest things to establish – and it is also one of the easiest things to be destroyed – is one’s reputation.

The old funny applies with reputation:

‘Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you’

No-one goes through life without displeasing some people.  The old song applies here:

‘You can’t please everyone so you’d better please yourself’

The rider here is that pleasing oneself is to be synonymous with taking a modest pride in doing the best quality work you can offer your clients.

You will generate discords along the way nonetheless. These might arise from simple misunderstandings, or worse, from jealousies and rivalries, or worse from downright lies and malevolence.  A prevalent root cause for these bad vibes being generated is nailed by the Apostle Timothy:

‘The love of money is the root of all evil’

If business people are going to fall out it is most likely they will fall out over money; even when money is not the issue it will often be used as a pretext for what is the issue to be used against one.

And so business reputation is a fragile thing. One bad apple spoils the whole barrel, so the proverb goes.  A guy or girl with an attitude firmly against you, and who is in a position to do you much harm, once let loose with motive, means and opportunity will work the works of idle hands upon you.  And to an extent your reputation will be in tatters.

If this happens, or has happened to you: take hope from it.  Those whom the well-poisoners are unable to infect; those who have resistance and some amount of immunity from their bad medicines, are those who will and who have stuck by you; and they and you have been tried and come through the fire.

Of Our Lord himself it is said in John’s Gospel that after He offered this followers some hard condition to accept that: From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.’

So look upon a partial loss of your goodwill towards you from others, lost through noises of unjustified rancour and ill will spread about concerning you; look upon it as a providential refining away of extraneous things to reveal better metals remaining.

In these times there are many online helps where business persons are able to seek and make connections and networks among similarly interested and disposed communities.  Quite often the connections will be made for only expedient reasons. To get business or to assist a friend in getting business; returning favours and reciprocal arrangements.

But life is larger than our plans and expedients, and has a way of doing the housekeeping and tidying things up in our lives of its own accord as we adventure ever into our futures.

In so far that any endorsement of one’s reputation is genuine; then it is useful and of value. It may be genuine in various ways. It may be heartfelt and so sincere. It may be accurate in fact, and so authentic. It may be positive or maybe less so; offering say a backhanded compliment or a damnation with faint praise – as the idioms go.  It may be glowing through and through but marred by a single – trivial or maybe more significant – detail of adverse criticism.  But when a positive endorsement is sincere and authentic it is at its best.

The place from which such an endorsement comes is of course crucial. From a substance abuser praise of heroin is not useful.  From a freshman praise of a prizewinning professor carries little weight or benefit.  These are examples taken from the view of the things of the world – that is by appearances – which is perhaps nine tenths of what the world relies on for its assessments of issues.

To get an authentic and sincere and positive endorsement from a person of calibre is good in the world – but to get such from a person of calibre and of good character is far, far better.  A glowing notice from the Dalai Lama is far more sound than a glowing notice from say Donald Trump. The old saying applies:

‘Would you buy a used car from this man?’

And so there are those clients who will follow where the world will lead them and so mostly judge upon appearances; and there are those clients, who are the best sort, and those most likely to return to you again and again, who will see that far further and consider you as an artisan; as a character; and as a sure and capable pair of hands. This then is the bedrock of reputation.

The dramatist contemporary of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson says in his inimitable way a few things akin to these my personal judgements on what makes good reputation. He writes:

‘To The Reader: If thou beest more, thou art an understander, and then I trust thee. If thou art one that takest up, and but a pretender, beware of what hands thou receivest thy commodity; for thou wert never more fair in the way to be cozened…’

An old British Army saying acts to explicate and to act as commentary on Ben Jonson’s prophesy that the person who is without judgement is s/he most likely to be swindled. It runs:

‘Bullshit baffles brains’

So don’t use the bullshit, use the solid grit, and like the guy in Matthew’s Gospel, build your house on rock, and the storm which comes will not wash you away like it does the guy who builds his house on sands.  Then your reputation will stand and withstand. Make sure your work and your earnest matches it.