Taking Offense

There is nothing worse than emerging from a moment of levity to realize that you may have offended someone, or caused hurt feelings. I had one of those moments shortly after getting elected. I said something, trying to be funny, then went home and stewed about what I said and how I said it and thought about that certain person who was in the room who may (or may not) have been offended or hurt. OK, I know I can't possibly be more vague, but I really don't want to be more specific than that. Suffice to say I reflected on that moment for a long time and promised myself to be more sensitive in the future.

I have no idea if what I said and how I said it had any impact whatsoever on the person within hearing range. But, the fact that I was questioning my actions, my words, completely unprompted, suggests that I needed to make some adjustments.

As political leaders we have to hold ourselves to a higher account. Everybody should really, but when you're in the public eye, it is expected. What we say, what we do and how we do it, is going to be judged, monitored, discussed, debated and deconstructed, whether we want it to or not.

There have been a number of times in my professional and public life when I said or did something that offended or was hurtful. In almost all cases, I was oblivious to the impact of my actions until some brave souls stepped forward and pointed out the error of my ways. I'm grateful to those people. Nobody is perfect, especially me.

I was called up on the mat earlier today, which sparked this blog post, and inspired awkward memories and moments from the past that have helped define me as a human being. "Mistake, error, is the discipline through which we advance," wrote William Channing.

"The seeds of success are sown in soil rich with failure." I wrote that. I live that.


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