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Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

I had the privilege of attending a business summit last week, where 800 business leaders and legislators gathered to discuss a number of issues in our state. Part of the agenda was an opportunity to get to know the candidates for our Congressional seats in the upcoming election. In pairs, these folks were given the opportunity to respond to a series of questions posed by a moderator, and one in particular caught my attention.

The moderator asked: What accomplishment in your public service career are you most proud of and what would you like the chance to do over?

What accomplishment are you most proud of and what would you like the chance to do over?

As I listened to each of the four candidates who participated, I found myself becoming more and more disappointed in them; although it is politics, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Essentially, here’s what they said: “I’m most proud of XX (fill in the blank with some specific thing), and I really have no regrets. I can’t think of anything in my life I would take back or do over.”

Really?

Pardon my disbelief, but that response left me cold. I can’t think of anyone I’ve met  who has no regrets, who wouldn’t like the opportunity to do something over. This is not to say that the something has to be monumental. It could be as simple as wishing one could take back a hurtful comment made in the heat of an argument, or fueled by hurt or misunderstanding. It could be wishing one took advantage of an opportunity that had been presented, but was missed out of lack of awareness, fear, doubt, insecurity. It could be a desire to do something again because of lessons learned and a desire to do whatever it was better, smarter, smoother, etc…There are often unintended consequences to our actions, and sometimes, we would like to try, again, based on that awareness.

I do understand the concept of saying “I have no regrets because I’m happy with where I am today.” I do. You see, I am very blessed to be where I am today, and looking back over the course of my life, I can see all the connections on the path to getting me here, and understand why the various experiences were necessary. At the same time, there are things I’ve done and said that I’ve deeply regretted and wish I could take back or do over, with more insight, stronger intuition, greater empathy, deeper wisdom. I’ve made apologies and amends and learned to forgive myself, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve goofed up, on numerous occasions, and would like to have done it better the first time.

But, this is how we learn. We try, we stumble, we learn, we try, again…

So, back to the political candidates. I assume some well-meaning communication officer or PR person told them it’s important to focus on the positive and not admit to any potential weakness or failure. I find it disingenuous. It disconnects them from the rest of us mere mortals who goof up on occasion. It leaves me feeling distrustful of them. If they can’t be open about a mis-step at some point in their life — or political career — what else will they not be honest and forthcoming about? And what will be the outcome if it turns out someone finds something in their past that they regret and would like to have done over?

This is like a job interview, isn’t it? When the interviewer asks the candidate what his / her strengths and weaknesses are. The truth is, we all have both and if we attempt to present ourselves as if we don’t, we’ve planted the seeds of distrust and disbelief. It usually doesn’t go well after that.

So, what about you? How would you answer the moderator’s question? What would you do over, and why?

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