Rack is the Co-Founder of Beyond Civility and the retired Chief Circuit Mediator at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
I’m not completely sure self improvement is possible, but like many others I work at it. I try to be more mindful, a better husband, a healthier eater, and, to the point of this blog, less of a puppet to my unconscious biases and a more genuine listener.
My friend Larry, a psychotherapist who spends his days with people trying to improve themselves, said something many years ago that has provided comfort and probably saved me from despair. When measuring our growth or progress, he said, it’s not how far we regress when we fail, but how quickly we recover.
Pretty good, eh?
When I realize I’ve totally dismissed a person’s worth because of the way they look, the beer they drink or the bumper sticker on their car (yes, they say you can identify political persuasion by beer preferences), Larry’s perspective lets me acknowledge the backslide and try again with confidence from knowing how quickly I realized my failure.
Without this, a master rationalizer like myself can and will try to avoid the shame of failure with a convincing justification for that undesired behavior, usually by blaming someone else. The bigger the failure, the stronger the motivation to double down on that clever excuse.
So, on behalf of myself and those who have been spared the blame for my own faults, thank you, Larry.