Do You Want to Be Defined by Your Worst Mistake?


So what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Care to share? I didn’t think so.

A Terrible Monster
There’s a song by Skillet that I learned to play on the guitar called Monster. The gist is pretty simple: there’s a monster inside each of us that leads us to do things we don’t like to do.

I have done some things I’m terribly ashamed of. These are things that make me angry with myself when I think about them. Then I realize there is something else here to think about.

A Scary Proposition
Think about this: what if you had to tell everyone the worst thing you had done. What if that would be how people would define you and think of you from now on? What if that became your identity? Would you do it?

How about this: what if you had to be defined by the worse thing a family member did? What if, no matter what you did, you were always tied to the horrible thing your great uncle Harry did? How would that feel?

A Painful Fiction
That would suck, wouldn’t it? And if it followed you all your life, that would suck even worse. No matter how many wonderful and great things you did, all you would be known for is that horrible thing great uncle Harry did.

People would avoid you. They wouldn’t want to do business with you. They wouldn’t want you to work for them. Life would be a painful and shameful experience of simply trying to find any place that had no idea who your great uncle Harry was.

A Caustic Reality
Now think about these scenarios:

  • A politician from a particular party does something awful. Do you paint all the people in that party with the same brush?
  • A person from a particular religious group is bigoted and cruel. Do you treat all people from that religious group as if they were that way?
  • A person of a particular gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. is involved in a horrible crime or situation. Do you use that as fuel to show that “men are better” or “immigrants are criminals” etc.?

There are hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. For one person to do something unspeakable, is to be simply analytical, statistically unsurprising. When you see one person do something or even several people do something terrible, it shouldn’t be an automatic view that all people in some random group do that. If you disagree with Republicans, just because one does something terrible, it doesn’t mean they are all like that.

A Better Approach
But here’s a different way to look at this. Instead of focusing on looking negatively at people at all, why not understand the truth: that we’re all just people? We are all flawed human beings. To look at it any other way denies that truth.

Why define any group or any person by their worst mistake? We wouldn’t want to be judged that way; why would we do that to anyone else? That might just become our worst mistake.

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About the author

David is a father, speaker, blogger (obviously), and author of How to Create Amazing Presentations sharing the tools, tips, and techniques of the experts to make you an amazing presenter, 7 Steps to Better Relationships built on the stories and lessons on this blog with seven easy steps to help you maximize your interactions with the people you care about most, and The Man in the Pit to help you care for loved ones struggling with depression.

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