The long weekend has brought Thanksgiving meals with family and friends along with opportunities for walks in the woods.
In life, we constantly experience interactions with people and environment. Whether at home or in our organizations, we take in what is happening around us. It’s easy to let encounters, emotions, and memories accumulate. We hold on to our experiences – good, bad, joyful, and difficult.
When we eat food, our bodies process it, taking what is needed for life and energy, eliminating the rest. We do not struggle to digest food; it’s a natural process. What if we digest experience the same way? Observing and reflecting on what happens with the intention of embracing what is life-giving. Choosing to let go of what is not needed or energy draining.
What would we learn and embrace? What would we let go of? How would we and our organizations change?
Fetzer Institute – Tools for Changing Everything
The power to undo has become firmly established in our lives. We press the backspace key or type “Ctrl+Z” to instantly undo typing mistakes. We press the undo button in the word processor to change our minds about what we want to say or how to say it. If we decide we don’t like a purchase, we take it back to the store. Undo is the power to “make a previous act of no effect.”
I would not want to go back to the days of “white out”. And, I like to be able to return things that don’t fit or exchange them for something more useful. But when we try to transfer the power of undo to our organizations and relationships, our commitments can be conditional; we don’t have to care too much; we don’t have to risk trusting. Indeed, trust may be broken all kinds of ways. A leader offers false praise, gives inconsistent messages, or pretends the elephant in the room doesn’t exist. It can be broken when a customer service representative stonewalls instead of assists or a product fails five minutes after being unboxed.
Yet, no one or thing is perfect. We make mistakes with our clients and employees, families and friends. And, in our relationships and organizations, there is no undo, no power to “make a previous act of no effect.” A reader recently challenged me by commenting that we need to do “our best to finish well, especially when we need to ask for forgiveness … understanding and healing should not go undone–if possible.”
Asking for, and offering, forgiveness is part of rebuilding trust. In my experience, repairing trust is possible, but it can take time and requires a change in behavior. Paul Boese said, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it enlarges the future.” It enlarges by making it possible for me to again risk commitment, love, and trust, – remembering that the power of undo is limited.