“I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”
I first heard these lyrics as a result of needle on vinyl. In high school and even as a young adult, I thought I got them. I was convinced I knew what Seger meant. Each time I hear those 11 words, I would bob my nead along with the beat. Or at least I’d try to. Sometimes in life, There are truths we wish we never knew. Because they hurt. And because once we learn about them, they learn even more.
But now? As I am approaching 50, I’m not as confident as I once was. You see, I want to know now what I didn’t know then. I want to get better. I want to make amends. I want to move forward. And so did Amber, Josh, Brad and Shana. They didn’t hide from their mistakes or wish that they didn’t know about them. No, they faced them head-on. Like grown-ups.
What do the four people highlighted in this section have in common? Unlike what Bob Seger sang his ‘70s rock hit, they wanted to know now what they didn’t know then. They admitted messing up even though they had no idea they were doing so at the time. That’s not easy to do.
But each one of us can.
How did they move forward? What did they do that enabled them to get back up?
They owned their mistakes. This was difficult because the mistakes they made were unintentional.
Just because they weren’t intentional doesn’t mean they weren’t hurtful. Think about it. When someone hurts you, does it sting any less knowing it was done unintentionally? Sometimes. But not often. In fact, we often think to ourselves, well, they should have known— how could they not have known?
Former Navy Seal and highly decorated war hero Jocko Willink said it best, “Let go of your delicate pride.” Yeah, you messed up. Now what? Well, since you are reading this book, I am assuming you care about righting your wrong. And this book is about ownership and getting up once we fall.
In my opinion, the first step is the most difficult because it requires you to admit you messed up. And the mistake you made wasn’t even your fault. Well, guess what? Nobody cares. What they do care about is what you do next. People will sometimes forgive you for doing the wrong thing. But once you have, they rarely forgive you if you respond by doing nothing.
Bite the bullet.
Eat your frog.
You’re going to miss stuff.
Acknowledge that and move on. You can do it. Know you are not alone and that people are forgiving. And remember the most important person that must forgive you is you.
Take that first step.
- This is an excerpt from my new book, My Bad: 24 Educators Who Messed Up, Fessed Up and Grew! To purchase the book, click the title above or the image below. I can’t wait to hear what you think.