Why is it that most of us find it uncomfortably difficult to admit to defeat, to apologize for any misdeed, to acknowledge a wrongful assumption or to accept responsibility for an unsuccessful outcome due to our own bad judgment? What emotions come into play: vulnerability, ineptness, embarrassment, shame and/or self-directed anger? Probably all of these feelings are present to a degree. And yet, in situations such as a race or competition, where there can only be one winner, we are prepared to not necessarily be the victor; our acceptance of our loss is thereby mitigated. I believe the same is true when variables beyond our control negatively affect the final outcome of a task or project; we are disappointed in the results but we don’t assume personal responsibility for a less-than-perfect ending.
An often-encountered behavioral trait that I am also guilty of is being married to an opinion or belief. Adamantly holding on to an inflexible position, when, in fact, there is potential for an adjustment of thought, generally labels one as “stubborn” or “obstinate.” When you are wholly convinced that your thinking is right, based on early teachings, previous experiences and personal observations, you generally shut down to any alternative evidence. Recently, a relative whose opinion I value mentioned to me that the infamous Howard Stern of Sirius XM Radio had replaced Piers Morgan as a judge on the TV show America’s Got Talent. He went on to say that Stern had been praised for his fairness and professionalism. Upon hearing the name Howard Stern, I instantly cringed. I haven’t listened to any broadcast of Stern’s since his original television show was cancelled, maybe 10 years ago. I am not a fan of his arrogance, vulgarity and crude demeanor. I actually lose respect for men when I learn that they are regular listeners of his satellite radio program.
Now you know my feelings about Stern. I did watch America’s Got Talent a number of times this season, and was simply amazed. I was embarrassed by my initial reaction and assumption that I would see the same old Stern. He was articulate, encouraging, realistic, and in no way offensive. I liked him and appreciated his abilities in his new role on the judging panel. This experience really woke me up. Perhaps I am too restricted in my singular opinions about things. So, it happens – we misjudge or need to re-evaluate a person or situation. How do I plan to change my behavior in the future? First, I will try to listen better to all that is being offered. Secondly, I will try not to reveal a negative reaction, and lastly, I’ll just try to keep an open mind. I stand corrected.