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KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: Nov 19, 07 ב"ה     ט' כסלו, תשס"ח                                          

 
 
 
   
 

Mistake or Misunderstanding

Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

 

Are you familiar with the joke about the woman - a mother in law - who has a son and son in law who can only find work for a half a day? About her son she says, "He knows how to relax;" about her son in law, "He's lazy."

 

Or maybe you know the father whose son gets into a huge fist fight in school. Regardless of the outcome of the fight, or who started it, the 'verdict' is the same. His son was defending himself; the other boy is a bully.

 

I once worked on a project with someone who lived by Rudyard Kipling's motto: "I never made a mistake in my life; at least, never one that I couldn't explain away afterwards."

 

This might seem to be an admirable trait to some people, but this attitude does not help to get anything accomplished. He only used this motto to explain away his blunders, which just had to be explained and cleared up; yet, my mistakes were always of catastrophic nature that could never be explained away no matter what.

 

I find it an interesting part of human nature that many people view their own gaffes as misunderstandings; while the mistakes of others are always just that - mistakes. Without taking a step back and using the same positive judgment for others as we use on ourselves we end up seeing the actions of others in a negative light.

 

Slip-upsare not pleasant, particularly when they are of a public nature, but there are certain positive points about making them. One is that if you made an error you were probably actually trying to accomplish something. If you weren't doing anything you probably would not have stumbled and blundered.

 

It's easy to stop making mistakes. Just stop having ideas.(SOURCE UNKNOWN)

 

People who don't take risks and don't go out on a limb are less prone to bungling because they are in a safety zone - one that allows them to view and criticize from the side lines those who actually venture out to do things.

 

 A mistake at least proves that somebody stopped talking long enough to DO something.  (SOURCE UNKNOWN)

 

Those who are critical of others, but excuse their own errors, don't realize that pointing out the mistakes of others, stems from resentment and enviousness.  If one does not admit their own blunders they don't end up learning from them.

 

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.

 (HAROLD J. SMITH)

 

Often the greatest inventions and creations were the product of someone blowing it, admitting the slipup and trying to make the best of it. First a mistake has to be acknowledged - not hidden and excused - before it can be repaired and worked with.

 

The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake... (NELSON BOSWELL)

 

Ultimately, I can't tell you that I have great advice for someone who is critical of others but not themselves, other than that they should work on being more objective about their own errors and on seeing others in a more positive light. 

 

I have made mistakes, but I never made the mistake of claiming that I never made one.

 (JAMES GORDON BENNETT)

 

Perhaps instead of living by Rudyard Kipling's quote we should live by a quote by Dr. Alsaker, which is: "We should be lenient in our judgment, because often the mistakes of others would have been ours had we had the opportunity to make them."  

 

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one.  (ELLEN HUBBARD)

 

 

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht 

Rabbi Hecht's Website:  www.sheahecht.com  

 

 
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