When I'm Wrong

A grand misstep, a foolish faux pas, a dumb decision, a moment of false bravado or brackish bombast - these are all character-buidling, soul-searching slices of life that I treasure.  The "Oh shoot!" moment is never pleasant, as my pulse races, face flushes and a pool of nervous sweat pools on the top of my head. In a flash, memories of conversations and circumstances flash in front of me, crescendoing to the realization that I was an ass, buffoon, or in some cases, a bully.

I'm fascinated by the body's ability to discern fact from fiction, to intuitively sense right from wrong.  At a recent announcement for the Northern Kickoff, an epic football game between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Saskatchewan Roughriders to inaugurate SMS Stadium at Shell Place on June 13, 2015, all of my community colleagues were draped in green and gold.  As I sat in the stands, the only one wearing my green Riders hat, I imagined how I would have reacted if Tim or one of the folks at MacDonald Island had offered me an Eskimos jersey or shirt to put on.  The thought caused my stomach to twist and ache, my body's sharp reminder that there are certain lines you just don't cross.

There are many cases over the years when an email, phone call, or look clues me in to the fact that I may have goofed up.  I had one yesterday, and while I won't go into the details, I can assure you that my body reacted immediately, two words into the email that drew attention to my latest folly.  And as I sat there reading, memories of conversations and circumstances flashing like a movie trailer in my mind, Lake Russell forming on my bald spot, I knew the mea culpa was mine and that apologies were due, a correction required.

The seeds of success are sown in soil rich with failure.  I've failed a lot, but each time I do, I stop and reflect on the value of the lesson, on how it will add value to my character.

In this most recent case, I was spouting an opinion, a personal perspective, not from the politician but from a citizen of the community.  What I sometimes forget is that while I might be speaking as a human being, I am being heard as municipal leader.  That differentiation can unwittingly cause hurt, concern and anxiety.

A great exercise I heard recently on one of those SUCCESS magazine audio CDs is to think of a person who is driving you crazy.  Write down all the ways this person needs to improve and/or change.  Then write down all the things you admire about this person.  When you're done, you will see a reflection of yourself, the good and bad, and a roadmap worth following.  "Hold as 'twere a mirror up to nature," wrote William Shakespeare in Hamlet.  Point your finger at someone and there are three fingers pointing back at you.

There is a long and remarkable list of moments of sheer and shocking clarity in my life, when I was slapped silly with the realization that I was wrong, that fault was entirely mine.  In every single case, my body makes it abundantly clear who was out of line, off the mark, out to lunch. I'm grateful.

I'm also grateful for the many people who have had the courage of their convictions to call me out, put me in my place, question my thinking, take exception to my comments, or cause me to reflect on my actions.


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