Lessons in Humility

I made a mistake at my job.  It’s true.  I admit it.  I was busy and running around trying to meet deadlines and my etiquette got sloppy.  I made a mistake.  Making mistakes for me is not unusual, but making them in a way that they have an impact before I can catch them and “fix” them is rare.  Mistakes happen, and I am very proud of the fact that I understand this, and accept this in others as well as myself.  We are all human and all learners, therefore we all make mistakes.  I’ve got your back, as long as you:

  • Own up
  • Change


So, now it was my turn.  Sadly, it wasn’t as easy as fixing one of my last mistakes, which was a calculation error that I simply needed to fix and resubmit.  This one affected people, and brought them to question their future relationship with me.  Words like “trust” came up.  I was feeling pretty uncomfortable.  But still, I only have two requirements when we make mistakes:

  • Own up
  • Change

As it turns out, this is hard as hell tough.  My “pride” in knowing and accepting that we all make mistakes has been replaced with humility.  I have discussed my mistake several times now, with several people.  I have apologized profusely.  I have committed to change where I can.  I have been honest where I can’t.  I have stuck in it, trying to be and do that which I expect from others:

  • Own up
  • Change


Still, I am tired.  My ego bruised.  My emotions are raw.  I feel under siege.  Humility is hard.  Defensiveness, posturing, blaming and judging are a lot easier.  As it turns out, I expect a lot out of those who work with me when it comes to mistake-making.  It is an art form requiring tremendous commitment, vulnerability, and courage.

What feels particularly striking throughout this experience has been how much I also demand expect from my children around their mistake-making.  I’m a pretty consistent person, so you’ll have no trouble guessing what I expect from my children when it comes to their own mistake-making:

  • Own Up
  • Change


But now, after my reminder of how difficult it is to face the music without my typical defenses: blame, judgment, denial or side-stepping responsibility, I also see how high a standard I have truly set for my children.  It doesn’t make me wrong for expecting a lot of them.  Yet, perhaps it means I can show a little more understanding and patience when they do attempt to avoid the discomfort and vulnerability required to truly accept responsibility.  I hope I can show them more patience as I continue to correct them.  I also hope to remind them that owning up is an act of great courage, and that I am proud of them when they can.  Turns out, what I ask of them isn’t small.

“Real humility is a sign of strength, authentic confidence, and courage.” (Original author unknown)

4 thoughts on “Lessons in Humility

  1. I feel like the only thing I can ever say about your posts is “you are amazing.” Consider it said again. ♥

  2. Life just handed you an opportunity not only to learn about humility, but empathy as well. Now you can put yourself in your kids’ shoes when they make a mistake to help them understand that you’ve been there, done that and it’s hard. Great post Sharlene.

  3. You raise some really great points. It IS hard…and it’s hard as an adult (we’ve all been there!). It must be REALLY hard for kids. This is a good reminder- thanks!!

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