Owning Our Failures
Isn’t our society strange? We drive into the back of another vehicle. It is clearly our mistake but we are told not to acknowledge this error of judgement. If we do, our insurance will probably not pay out the claim.
We drive under the influence of alcohol, we steal from our employer, we fail an exam, we might even kill someone. Instead of saying “yes, I fouled up, how can I make amends”, we go to great lengths to weasel our way out. We blame the devil, our teachers, our parents, our bosses or anyone else whose fault it could possibly be. Me? No way!
Our justice system says we are innocent until proven guilty. The more money you have the more likely you will be found not guilty regardless of the truth.
However we can't lie to ourselves and we take ourselves wherever we go.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.
1. Oscar Pistorius
Only he knows the truth as to what really happened. What is not in dispute is that he killed Reeva Steenkamp. Let’s call it a mistake or an error of judgement. He has caused trauma to her family, to his family and to himself. Of course he is suffering and Reeva is dead.
If instead of going the legal route costing millions and millions of Rands and enduring public humiliation what if he went to Reeva’s family (which I understand he did not do) and said, “I have done a terrible thing, I have killed your daughter, how can I make amends? I know she supported you financially so I will sell my house and give you the money. I will take ownership of my error, go to jail if necessary and while I am there I will do my utmost to share my athletic skills and help other disabled prisoners.”
Society would be far more sympathetic and although nothing could bring Reeva back, her parents and family could gain some closure and peace.
Oscar would also be able to eventually move on knowing that he has taken ownership of his failure and has done something positive.
I am sure much of Oscar's weeping and wailing is because he is wracked with guilt about what he has done .... accident or intentional.
2. President Zuma and Nkandla
Imagine the response of the nation if President Zuma stood up and said, “I made a serious error of judgement in allowing the improvements to my home in Nkandla. I have failed to look after the assets of South Africa. This is how I am going to fix it.
I will move out of Nkandla and hand over the property jointly to Child Welfare and the Association responsible for caring for the aged. Nkandla will make a perfect environment to restore family life for many orphaned children who will also benefit from the presence of surrogate grandparents."
That is leadership! What a great example to the rest of South Africa and the world.
We are taught from an early age that failure is not acceptable. Yet that is how we learn and grow. When we are afraid of failure we stop doing things. This is failure in itself.
For most of my life I gave up at the first hurdle. I shied away from taking risks and missed out on so many opportunities.
We are all human and fallible. Learning from our mistakes makes us stronger.
I also don't agree with the saying "you made your bed so now you have to lie in it". Just because we made a bad choice or decision does not mean we have to live in misery forever. We have the power to change our relationships, our jobs, our friends, our houses so that we can live our lives to the full.
Isn't this what we should be teaching our children?
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