“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 understood what Seger was saying. Each time I heard those 11 words, I would bob my head 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 hurt 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 I bet you do too. You don’t want to hide from your mistakes or wish that you didn’t know about them. No, you want to face them head-on. Like a grown up.
Unlike what Bob Seger sang his ‘70s rock hit, you want to know now what you didn’t know then. You want to own your mistakes even though you may have had no idea you were making them at the time. That’s not easy to do.
But each one of us can.
How did we move forward? What did can we do that allows us to get back up?
First, we own their mistakes. This is difficult because the mistakes we often make are 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 moving forward once we fall—here we go.
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. Own it.
You’re going 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 short piece was taken from a modified portion of my book, My Bad: 24 Educators Who Messed Up, Fessed Up & Grew. If you enjoyed reading this and are interested in taking a look at the book just clock HERE.