Why is it we can always see our own faults more clearly when they are portrayed by others? I think of how important it is with our kids to correct mistakes with kindness and understanding, and how I failed in that department at times. What brought this to mind was learning that a coworker belittled and berated those under him for making a mistake, then failed to own up to a similar mistake he had made.
But my most vivid memory of someone failing to own up to his own mistakes comes from a radar class almost 40 years ago. The teacher was making a presentation, and writing equations on the board as he talked. But something he wrote didn’t match what he was saying, and I questioned him about it. Rather than admit he had made an error, and correcting it quickly, he began the explanation from the beginning. As he did so, he erased parts of the board and rewrote them as he talked about that part of the analysis. As he did so, when he arrived at the error, he simply erased it and wrote it correctly with that part of the verbal explanation. He ended by looking at me and saying, “see, it is exactly as I had explained it.”
It wasn’t sad that he proved me wrong, as everyone in the class saw what he did and knew who was in error. What was truly sad was that he demonstrated that his ego was so large that he could not admit a simple unimportant error and move on.
I catch myself more often than not when I want to be right more than I want to be kind and understanding. For instance, does it really matter when someone says that now we’ve gone off daylight savings time, its going to be darker when I go to work? I know its lighter now, but I don’t need to tell the other person that they’re wrong.
Those thoughts mesh well with a lot of what I have said being positive, and the fact that I have decided to make my decade of sixties my best decade yet (here and here), and with a quote I recently read about recovery: No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who quits trying.
When I make a mistake, I try to admit it and own up to it quickly and make amends. When someone else makes a mistake, I try to address it with kindness and understanding. And I try to reinforce the good others do and praise them for it, even if they have made mistakes. But the most important is to keep trying – as I have said, stop procrastinating and just do it.
What about you? Could you be kinder with others’ mistakes? Could you give others more praise and recognition? Just do it.