Everybody makes a poor decision from time to time, and those decisions have the ability to make us cringe.
This last week, I can think of two cringe-worthy decisions I personally made. The first came at wrestling meet. A coach said “hello” and shook my hand. I could have simply said, “Hello, how are you?” That would have been a normal response to someone shaking your hand, right?
Instead, I told him that I read in the paper about a few of his players receiving All-State honors. He looked confused and I looked awkward. Why was this awkward? Because I didn’t just read the article — I wrote the article. I got quotes from the coach before I wrote the article. So, yeah — it was awkward.
The second cringe-worthy decision I made came at a different wrestling meet. Instead of waiting for my wife to come home from her job, I decided to bring my 2-year-old daughter to work. If you have a toddler, you can probably guess how that went.
I was hardly able to get any work done. Instead, I spent about 90 minutes trying to prevent my screaming tot from hopping on the mats and participating in what she likely thought were tickle fights. Thankfully, my wife eventually finished her workday and relieved me from my nightmare.
Though these decisions were ones I almost immediately regretted, I have to own them. They’re my mistakes and mine alone. That kind of ownership is something I’ve been trying to get better at.
Recently, I began listening to Jocko Willink’s podcast. Willink is a retired Navy SEAL and MMA instructor. His accomplishments and daily routine will make any average person, like myself, feel like they can do much more with their life.
A major theme on his podcast is what he calls “extreme ownership.” Basically, you have to own every situation you find yourself in. Never blame others for your circumstances.
Now, I may not agree with this attitude entirely. There are some health issues and economic hardships which are out our control. Not everything is your fault. However, many things can be prevented and taking responsibility for your circumstances can be beneficial in most circumstances.
To use my earlier examples, I can’t blame anything but my own awkwardness for my odd conversation about an article I wrote. Maybe I can blame my lack of sleep for the awkwardness, but that is still my problem and no one else’s.
I choose to stay up late watching NBA games or reading suspense novels. My lack of sleep (and resulting awkwardness) is only my fault.
As for my experience at the wrestling meet with my kid, I should have known better. Of course she wanted to run around and make a lot of noise. Of course she would cry when I wouldn’t let her rush the mats and join the wrestlers. She’s a toddler, and that’s what toddlers do.
Taking ownership of your circumstances helps you learn from mistakes and, thus, not make the same mistake again. Hopefully, it will decrease the amounts of times I cringe in a given week. If my life could use less of anything, it certainly can use less cringe-worthy moments.