I love maxims, aphorisms, proverbs, and teaching stories of every sort. And I particularly love a paradox.
Here’s a story I love, about a paradox that arose in real life
It involves a letter dated May 11, 1983, signed by Steve Jobs, who was then Chairman of the Board of Directors of Apple Computers. On Apple company stationery, he wrote politely to a Mr. Varon:
Dear Mr. M. Varon, I’m honored that you’d write, but I’m afraid I don’t sign autographs.
The letter is signed, very clearly, “Steve Jobs.”
When Steve Jobs signed his autograph on a letter to say that he didn’t sign autographs, did he not notice the contradiction, or did he mean it as a joke, or did he sign the letter without even reading it?
Whatever the truth of the situation, it’s a funny thing to see.
It reminds me of how, when I was in school, teachers would sometimes lecture us students for half an hour about how much course material we needed to get through, so we couldn’t waste one minute of class time talking about anything else.
As part of the very act of saying we’re not going to do something, we do it—a paradox we should all try to avoid.