You screwed up. You know you did.
Your heart fills with a growing sense of dread. That terrible feeling in your stomach won’t stop swirling, taking you to the threshold of nausea.
Why did you do what you did? You knew better. But you went and did it anyway.
I felt like this recently. I expressed my opinion on something that ended up offending someone.
For the people who know me, I rarely walk on egg shells. I live my life as honestly as I can, and sometimes that means I say things that not everyone likes. I’m okay with that.
Except this time around, it got me a reprimand at work.
The opinion I expressed wasn’t bred from an evil nature or anything like that. It was just my thoughts on a subject. While I sat in my office, awaiting my punishment, the terrible feelings rolling around in my gut weren’t fear of losing my job. Rather, I knew that I’d disappointed a friend with the things I’d said, or rather, the way I’d said them.
My boss talked it over with me in a gentle manner. Being a good leader, he has a phenomenal understanding of situations like that. Being an opinionated person himself, his grasp is all the better.
When our talk ended, I still felt a little bad about offending the other person involved, but I knew that it was one of those learning moments from which I could grow.
We all experience those kinds of moments. There have even been times where I had to close the door and remind my boss of how to handle things, and that his initial reactions weren’t appropriate.
Not a single one of us is perfect. We are constantly growing, adapting, changing into more aware and, hopefully, wise creatures.
The trick is to identify those moments ahead of time.
Going back to my little story, the comments I made had been via email. You’re likely shaking your head right now. I know. Never put strong opinions in email. And if you do, don’t send the email!
The digital age has brought many amazing things to us. We are connected to each other in ways we never thought possible in the 1980s. With that connectedness, however, we have to be more aware of how our words look and feel. Moreover, we must understand that as soon as we put them out there, they can never be taken back. Plus, they can be easily shared.
As I stared at the email, I admired how I’d cleverly crafted my words. Many people know I can be quite the smart aleck, a trait that goes back to my childhood and got me in trouble on more than one occasion in school. My finger hovered over the mouse as I prepared to click the send button.
That was the moment. In those few seconds, everything slowed down. I wondered if my words were too strong, if I maybe should save that opinion for a personal conversation rather than email. I considered what the ramifications could be if the email got into the wrong hands.
Believing there was nothing bad that could come of it, I clicked send.
That moment led me to the reprimand with my boss.
In those moments, we must recognize what is going on. We have a choice to click the button or not. If I had looked at it from the perspective of the friend I offended, I would have not clicked the button. However, I do not regret the experience.
Everything we go through in this life helps us grow. Sometimes, we may not like the growth process. It can be painful and challenging in ways we would rather skip. In the end, if we recognize the experience as an opportunity for growth, we can become better, stronger people than we imagined.
In my upcoming book, Move the Mountain: The power of a moment, I talk about more examples of little moments like the one with the email, and the power we possess to change the course of our lives and the world around us. If you’ve had some learning or growth moments, share them in the comments. None of us is perfect. As long as we learn from our errant choices, everything’s going to be okay.