“It just shows what can be done by taking a little trouble,” said Eeeyore. “Do you see, Pooh? Do you see Piglet? Brains first and then Hard Work.” Eeyore, From Winnie the Pooh

As a young graduate student, I once bought three large metal bookcases that required assembly. I’ll never forget the night I spent putting them together. After hours of work, I realized that I had been doing it all wrong. I hadn’t read the instructions. And I hadn’t used my own brain for thinking through the implications of what I was doing and how I was doing it. Especially as a philosopher, it shocks me how often in my life I could say the same thing: I failed to use my brain for thinking through the implications of what I was doing, or how I was doing it, until I faced some unexpected consequences, usually involving a big mess.

Eeyore has it right here. Work hard without using your brain well, and you may be surprised at the mess you create. Brains first, and only then will hard work pay off. Make sure you’re thinking before you act, as a regular practice. The work will be so much more effective and have more positive results. It’s a simple lesson that Piglet, Pooh, me and you can all use.