In the second installment of the taking the blame series, we will discuss how taking the blame can make you free.
In the first installment we discussed how taking the blame gives you power, which I encourage you to read as well.
But in this installment we are going to talk about freedom. How making a mistake can either paralyze you or liberate you, depending on how you respond to it.
Lessons in Mistakes and How They Make You Free
Let’s face it, until we are made perfect, we are going to make mistakes. We are going through a learning process in this life (as discussed in the first installment) and we are going to work our way through things.
There are things we need to learn, areas in which we need to graduate to the next level, and things we need to try and figure out.
I’m sure we’d all like to think that we have everything figured out, but in the honest assessment we know we need some help. So a little humility will go a long way.
But how does this make you free?
In my daily reading of How to Win Friends and Influence People (which I believe may be the most important book ever written, if you do not count the Bible), I came across a passage that resonated with me. Perhaps it will with you also.
Here it is:
“Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes – and most fools do – but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.”
As soon as I read this I couldn’t help but feel myself in my own story, having made a mistake.
It’s happened a time or two.
And as I felt those feelings I felt how it feels to respond in the two ways we can respond to a mistake.
The first is to quickly search for the best available excuse. Maybe not shifting blame onto another person, but at least shifting it somewhere else other than yourself.
Sometimes you might “get away” with something like this. But even when you do, there is a feeling associated with it.
You never really do feel good about it when you shift the blame, twist the story, etc., do you? You certainly do not feel good about yourself or like a winner.
You may feel the feeling of others seeing right through you, or that you’ll be found out, or that those around you are losing respect for you as they witness you effectively lie and try to cover up your error in foolish pride.
You know you’re making excuses and underneath everything you’ve papered over, you sense that they know it too.
You never walk away from that situation feeling good or confident about yourself. And chances are you did not learn the important lesson your mistake presented you (check out the first installment for more details on that), which is an opportunity to graduate to a higher level.
Now let’s look at the other side of the ledger:
Actually admitting responsibility.
Doing so provides you with a number of benefits.
One, it removes the uneasiness, guilt, and shame that go along with lying or bending the truth.
It gets it off your chest. The complete opposite of how it feels to lie or cover it up.
And that is freeing.
Once you admit and take responsibility for your error, you are more free to move past the fact that you made the mistake and move on to the part where you learn the valuable lesson and fix the mistake, which is the ultimate goal.
Additionally, you earn the respect of others when they see you are not too proud to admit your mistakes. That you are a person who is in search of results more than recognition. And that ultimately shows them that you respect them as well and have the interest of making things right for you and them, rather than just for you.
You also earn the trust of others. Someone who has proven they are more interested in truth than in saving their own hide is someone whose word people trust.
Lastly, being able to admit your mistakes takes confidence. Confidence that taking the blame cannot take you down, but rather you know that it will ultimately build you up and make you a better person. When you practice confidence, you build confidence.
Ultimately, if you value yourself, which means treating yourself in such a way so that you grow and succeed in reality rather than only perception, you will admit your mistakes. It is demonstrably what is best for you.
Let’s wrap this up with one more quote from the book, which I think encapsulates the idea really well:
“When we are right, let’s try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong – and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves – let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. Not only will that technique produce astonishing results; but, believe it or not, it is a lot more fun, under the circumstances, than trying to defend oneself.”
Ain’t that the truth.
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