As I surfed the internet a few days ago, I stumbled on a profound poem or should I say, story, by Valerie Cox.
It’s about how quick we are to make assumptions about people and the situations in our lives. But being wrong is not the challenge; your reaction is the issue.
How do you react when you’re wrong? That’s if you admit it.
Let’s dive in!
A woman was waiting at an airport one night. With several hours before her flight, she hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to relax.
She was engrossed in her book but happened to notice that the man sitting beside her, as bold as he could be, grabbed a cookie from the cookie bag in-between. She ignored him trying not to create a scene.
She munched her cookies and watched the clock as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock piece after piece. She grew irate as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye for sure.”
With each cookie she took, he took one too. When only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile, he took the last cookie and broke it in half; offering her half while he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought…“oooh, mannerless brat! This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude. He even shows no gratitude at all!”
She never remembers being this angry before. She kept struggling to keep the raging inferno in her under control when her flight was called on the public address system.
Finally! She jumped to her feet, gathered her stuff and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat. Reaching for her book, she rummaged through her hand bag until she felt something strange. There was her original pack of cookies staring at her.
“If mine are here,” she moaned in despair, “then the others were his. And he was only trying to share. Oh my God!”
She clasped her lips so tight as though trying not to puke.
As the engines fired up, so did her guilt. There would be no chance to say sorry.
In that moment of truth, she realised that she was the rude one after all.
She was the ingrate. She was the thief.
What happens when the truth strikes you?
How does it feel to have your eyes opened and you discover your wrong?
The natural response is guilt and remorse.
While it’s okay to feel this way, what you do next is what matters.
Some people allow the guilt swallow them while others take a step back, retrace their steps and learn from their mistakes.
If you ever find yourself overtaken by guilt; of failure, of letting someone down or not giving enough to your dreams, here are 3 things to do.
1. Realise You are Human
This means that you are bound to make mistakes from time to time, no matter how careful you are.
It means that you are going to misjudge others at some point. You are going to fall short of certain standards. And that is okay.
It also means you’re a work in progress; you can improve.
2. Evaluate the Mistake and Pick the Lessons
Some mistakes give you the liberty to learn while others will almost cost you your life.
Both require evaluation.
Evaluation helps you separate the scars from the lessons. It helps you pick the gold out of the mud.
If you have been careless with your finances or were disloyal to a friend, this is not the time to dust yourself and move on. You must sit back and ask questions.
What was the situation?
How did I handle it?
Could I have handled it better? How?
What will I do differently next time?
Life is a learning process. Never skip classes all in the name of moving on.
3. Mend the Broken Pieces
Not all mistakes will give you the room to make amends. But for those that do, take the step.
Apologize to those you have wronged. If you have mismanaged your finances before, learn and create new systems to instill financial discipline.
If you have been careless about your relationships before, now’s the time to commit to the right ones and set healthy boundaries too.
If you are a leader, you will have to lead by example.
You might also like: There’s No Leadership Without Personal Leadership (Part 1)
Perhaps you’ve always stood for a certain belief before. Now that you have changed course, your followers deserve to know. That way, you give them to liberty to either follow suit or maintain the status quo.
Like the woman in our story, was there a time when you realised you were wrong? How did you feel? What did you do afterwards? I would like to know. Please leave a comment.