S1W5: So I f***ed up…

So yeah…it wasn’t my proudest moment last week.

I made a stupid error of judgement and I was reckless, slightly obnoxious and unnecessarily inflammatory and in doing so I unwittingly compromised the values and goodwill that had been created at Wade (by everyone).

And I’m sorry and embarrassed about that… I should have known better and I entirely take the blame for that. And this is part of me trying to own and accept that.

So what did I learn from this whole experience? Well lots…not all of it new, some of it was a repeat of poor behaviour on my part — perhaps a certain element of attention seeking and pushing the boundaries at other people’s expense. Yeah…I know…not great…but yeah…that’s probably the truth to some extent and the ‘other side’ of the strengths I otherwise bring to the table.

So what happened? Well, in short I was a tool. And other people in the course called me out on it (in a nice way) and I absolutely trust, value and respect the fact that they did that (very brave thing) to put me back in check. This involved quite a few long phone conversations with some real-talk and some thought provoking questions which helped uncover what exactly I had done wrong, which for what ever reason wasn’t exactly immediately obvious to me (pride maybe?). Needless to say, those who did that are absolutely awesome people (and I’d encourage anyone to do that for me anyway because sometimes I need it).

So why did I do it? Well I think in part (not that it’s an excuse, and I don’t mean it to be) it’s because of my personality. By that I mean, I’m honest and for the most part I’ve learned (over a long period of time) how to communicate respectfully and intelligently with others. But it sometimes that takes a lot of energy for me to do that and keep my emotions in check (depending how important it is for me) and sometimes when I’m low on energy or just reckless or intentionally provocative (I was a bit of reckless and provocative this time around) I say or write things without much care for the consequences or just ‘to see what happens’.

I think in some sense I’m also not so good when I’m ‘comfortable’. I get bored (not to be underestimated), and sometimes when that happens I act out. And in this case I completely misjudged and underestimated the impact of what I was doing (which I don’t think think happens too often…).

Anyway, why was what I did so bad? Well there are a few things:

  1. (Most importantly) Over time, to varying degrees, people have put themselves in my trust, and to some extent I broke the trust. And in doing so I had compromised them and put them in a vulnerable position when they weren’t expecting to be, hadn’t asked to be and weren’t prepared for it. Now I’m ok with putting myself out there (and sometimes be a bit provocative) and I’m prepared to wear the consequences of what I do, but it’s not fair for me to extend that attitude to others. Now to some extent I’m over-blowing this with more dramatic language than is necessary and I’m exaggerating the consequences of what I was doing beyond what it actually was (which other people have also reinforced and told me) but that’s not really the point. What I want to get across is that this isn’t the behaviour becoming of a ‘good person’ — no matter how frustrated or well intentioned I may be, there’s a right and wrong way about going about things. And I didn’t do the former in this case. So yeah. Big mistake, and not one I plan to repeat again anytime soon (or ever if I can help it).
  2. I represent more than myself now (as was reminded but failed to recognise or admit properly) because of my roles and the privileges I’ve been afforded. So that comes with some sacrifices and that means in this context I can’t just say and do what ever I want like as if the consequences only effected me. To be clear, I don’t really care about the effect on me on a personal level, but on a greater community basis I do take that very seriously. And if I do happen to be a role model (whether I am or not is not really important) or given a position of responsibility (which is the case) I need to conduct myself accordingly. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to be totally vanilla but I do need to be cogniscent of my impact and the example I’m providing for others to follow. I can’t really expect others to behave and listen to me if I’m a hypocrite can I?

But anyway, like I said. I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory through this and I kicked up a bit of a hornet’s nest but from the sounds of it (at least in some cases) it provided the space to provide feedback that was otherwise lacking.

One of the interesting things about this whole episode is the many different perspectives that have been brought out of this. It turned out there were people who completely surprised, those who were deeply upset, those who thought others were over-reacting, those who thanked me and probably a whole heap of people who didn’t care and others who didn’t say anything but felt something in between all those emotions. But the other interesting thing was that people’s opinions (including my own) shifted as time went by and it wasn’t exactly fixed, but fluid, based on the context and the unfolding wave of consequences I had instigated. Just an observation…

So many lessons learned.