To Fool or Not to Fool

“April Fools!” is often heard from children who have tried to trick their parents or siblings on April Fools’ Day. So how did this tradition of tricking people come about?  This is what says about April Fools’ Day:

"On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other.

Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes."

Although we can laugh at a good prank on April Fools’ Day, how many of us enjoy people “tricking” us or “making a fool” out of us?  Most people don’t like being tricked or being the butt of somebody’s joke.  We feel deceived, hurt, angry, disrespected, duped.   We know how hurtful it can be to be on the receiving end of a prank, but do we consider how others may feel if we are on the other side, taking advantage of their gullibility?  Do we ever intentionally trick others into thinking that we are something we are not?  Do you know people who present themselves in one way, but as you get to know them, you realize it is a hoax and they are not who they appear to be?

In our professional lives, we want to deal with honest people in an honest way.  We want to trust the people we do business with just as our clients want to trust us.  What happens when a client feels duped by the promises of a business or person?  Do they go out and recommend others to do business with the person they felt took advantage of them?  Or do they pull back the curtain and expose it on social media and to their friends and colleagues?  We must always be conscious of our integrity and our intentions.  Is it worth an extra buck to tell a potential client a half-truth to get their business?  Or would it be better for your conscience and your bottom line to refer them to another business if you can’t meet their needs?

Most people feel somewhat insecure in some area of their lives and they fear somebody exposing them, thereby making them appear a fool.  Out of this fear, sometimes people overcompensate and overpromise what they can deliver.  Although it isn’t intentional dishonesty, it has the same effect.  I challenge you to consider your interactions in your personal and professional life.  Are you intentionally or unintentionally making a fool out of somebody else?  Are you afraid that others will expose you as a fool?  Let’s call an end to this “foolishness”!  Be yourself and don’t hide behind a jester’s mask!  Offer others the best of what you have to offer.  Don’t oversell or undersell what you have, but evaluate it honestly.  Your clients won’t be fooled by your competition, but will see that what you have to offer is genuine, if you are genuine.  Let’s leave the pranks and hoaxes where they belong, on April Fools’ Day.

This article was posted in the Coach's Corner of the ASTD Newsletter for April 2016.  You can reach Kolleen through this website, Linked In, Facebook or by calling her at (402) 499-5547.  She offers workshops, small groups and individual life coaching on a variety of topics to help you create the life you dream of but haven't been able to achieve.