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Prudence

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Pearls of Wisdom

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Always exercise prudence, for it can prevent any remorse and regret engendered by loss or failure. So many who have initiated projects have regretted their actions or blamed fate, just because they failed to assess their situation prudently and competently. Such people are doubly in error: for inadequate deliberation and then for criticizing fate.

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However great a project’s goal, always take the proper precautions required to attain it. If you do not establish a realistic plan of action and carefully weigh potential advantages and drawbacks, either you are not serious or you are simply foolish. The efforts of such people are often more harmful than their inaction.

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Prudence and safety measures are important resources for reaching your goal. It is a serious error to be careless and negligent of anything that eventually might cause you to fail or to be accused of various things by others. Smart and prudent people envisage all possible drawbacks and problems, and then figure out how to solve them or deal with them appropriately if they should arise. As one of our traditional sayings express it: “It is better to catch a burglar before he or she breaks into your home.”

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Embark upon every duty after you have carried out the proper planning activities and safety measures. Be wary of those steps that do not promise any result in any material or intellectual benefit or add any value. Every project undertaken without adequate precautions is triviality and nonsense, a sign of foolishness and childishness in the person preoccupied with it.

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People demonstrate their own virtue and worth through the success they achieve after facing very tough trials and awkward circumstances. Their success under adverse conditions depends primarily on formulating a realistic plan and then sticking to it. Accordingly, a person’s worth and virtue are proportional to the resulting success, and one’s success is proportional to the degree of prudence exercised before setting out on the venture.

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To carry out one’s duties in an orderly, consistent way depends on both the initial measures and plans and on one’s ability not to be thrown off the course by the actions of one’s rivals. Such dedication demands great forethought and prudence. Many of those who set out with great noise and fuss are caught and delayed by rivals or enemies before they even reach the second step. They find themselves surrounded by the evils and vexations of which they had been warned, and for which they had not prepared themselves adequately. If only that were the sole negative consequence! Consider the effect on those who followed them—the loss of hope, the paralysis and apathy generated by failure.

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Being prudent does not mean being fearful and withdrawing. Nor does action without proper preparation and planning have anything to do with being courageous and bold. Being excessively cautious may cause some damage, but people can recover from such damage. However, the indiscreet and heedless actions of those who think imprudence is heroism are very risky and dangerous.

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Like many other bad habits, trying to manipulate the masses with deceitful crowd control techniques is a gift to us from abroad. We reject such things, which remind us of a hen “announcing” loudly that it has laid an egg. Instead, we prefer the slow, peaceful road, even if it means a longer and painful travail.

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Your true stature before the Creator is measured by your energy and the loftiness of your aims. The clearest sign of these two elements is that you willingly sacrifice your own comfort and desire for the prosperity of others. Can you imagine any greater sacrifice than undermining your own dignity for the sake of social well-being, controlling your temper even when you feel like shouting, limiting your own desire at a time of personal prosperity?

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It is foolishness to consider only the courage of a victorious army and disregard the role of strategic planning. Similarly, it is stupidity to attribute success to heedless daring, thereby downplaying the critical importance of prudent planning and forethought.

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Efforts to secure a goal, as well as precautions taken to realize it, are invitations for the Almighty’s help. These are two parts of the same reality. A misguided step in either preparing or enacting a project may cause that help to be withdrawn. If that happens, success will not be forthcoming. Safe, steady progress on the journey is possible for those who constantly remain discerning and vigilant. Fortunate are those who understand this fact.