Look to the Right

Jim Gustafson

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"We've all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it's more important to learn from successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors. " - Norman Vincent Peale

Not long ago, the temperature light on my car’s dashboard lit up. I immediately went to the repair shop. It didn’t take long for the mechanic to come out from the garage to the waiting room. He shook his head like a surgeon with bad news. “You have a blown head gasket, ” he said. I was glad he gave it to me straight. I didn’t need to be coddled. “How much, ” I asked. “A lot, ” he answered. I wish he had coddled me a little. He could have been a little less direct.

It strikes me as odd that we live in a world where things are usually only checked for mistakes. Our automobiles have lights that go on when something is wrong. Our school papers have misspelled words marked. The IRS audits our returns for errors and never ever says “thanks” when there are none. The world spends its time seeking out all that is wrong. I think it has something to do with embarrassment. None of want to be caught with our embarrass showing. Consequently, we take care to avoid mistakes. At the same time, we look for other’s mistakes to deflect attention from ourselves.

There is so much that is right, good, and complete in life, that the focus on the wrong, bad, and unfinished gets to be tiresome. Certainly, there is growth and improvement to be had, but most are doing the very best they can. The other view point would be that that most everything is right, so the wrong is more obvious, correctable, and worthy of note. I like that perspective. Most people are very much aware of their mistakes.

Today is a great day to compliment someone on things they are doing right. Compliments are most powerful when they are given with three S’s: Specifically, Sincerely, and Slowly. Go ahead…Make someone’s day…



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