If you’re a social media geek like I am, you might know Chris Brogan as the intensely prolific oracle on all things new media.
Brogan tells the tale of a builder who realizes he’s built his house on sand, then frantically fights the inevitable shifting and sliding from the poor foundation.
Why fight it, Brogan asks? Why continue to throw energy into preserving a mistake, instead of learning from it and moving on? What’s the worst that can happen if you acknowledge you screwed up?
What the Builder does next is what matters most, I would think. Because we all live. We can feel anger, sadness, grief, disappointment, inadequacy, and a whole raft of other emotions. They pile up beside us like every cracked shingle and every warped frame we ever built with before. But when we inspect those feelings, when we look at where those feelings take us, when we make amends with some of how those feelings came to be (those bad building materials), then the obvious next step is to build with better material, and to build with good, solid, strong, love-worthy materials. And in this, we should almost always seek out better teachers, because we probably have learned a bit from the house that fell down, but we have a lot more to learn, and we can use help.
I’m a Builder. I suspect some of you are, too. And I’ve let a few of my houses fall down lately, as maybe you have. It’s what I do next that I hope gives me a legacy worth passing on, and it’s how I help us all live that will bring me my best joy. I’m still possessed of many fears, but for each one I find, I toss that board in the fire, and I seek out stronger building materials.
So we hide from our mistakes because of all these negative emotions — fear and embarrassment — and it keeps us shackled to the past, even as our house caves into the sand.
It’s easy to think of examples when I’ve done that: worked even harder to save an obviously doomed relationship, put in more effort to try to succeed at a job that was a bad fit, argued more passionately to win an argument when I knew I was in the wrong.
What if I was willing to take a deep breath and walk away, so I could go build on solid ground?
And while we’re at it, I also really liked Brogan’s recent post “You are your own superhero.” You can get a two-for-one if you check out that one while you’re reading the builder.