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You’re so clever!

I was walking along the footpath the other day and over-heard a mother, who was getting her young child out the car, say “you’re so clever” in an animated voice full of wonderment and praise.

Well, my heart did a little dance, my mouth smiled and my brain said “wow, what a great thing to say to another human being”. As I continued my walk I questioned myself as to whether I had ever said that to anyone and whether it had been said to me. At times, I have said “that is clever” but not sure about “you’re so clever”, if I have it can’t have been too often!

I know that I am not too bad with “please”, “thank you” and sometimes I say things like “well done” and “that’s great”. However, there is much room for improvement.

Naturally, feedback is important and constructive criticism is essential for improvement and growth. The young mother was a great reminder that I need to lift my game and when deserved recognise others for being “clever”.

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If you spot it, you got it!

The first time I heard this proposition I was doing some “growing up” work with my then mentor. We were discussing the people, places and things that caused me to become frustrated, irritated, critical, angry, resentful. The proposition is that the so-called shortcomings or defects that I observe and over react to are often a reflection of my own attitudes and behaviour, whether currently or at some time in the past.

After recovering from the shock and cleaning up the vomit I said to my clever friend “surely a good vent sprinkled with a dash of character assignation is just fine, everybody does it. After all what is wrong with being judgemental, intolerant, inconsiderate and bloated with false pride?” He just laughed and said, “maybe you should spend more time developing your character and less time dwelling on the faults of others!”

Other than the occasional pang of conscience I had little understanding that this subtle and perverse form of self-satisfaction was severely limiting the quality of my life and usefulness to others. It’s a bit like taking a Panadol; temporary relief of pain (aka feelings of superiority) without investigating and treating the cause.

Most importantly my mentor introduced me to a process that helped me better understand what drives my character defects and what I can do about that, should I so choose. Sometimes I think it would have been easier to have remained blissfully ignorant.

To be clear I am not suggesting that we should silently tolerate and ignore inappropriate, morally unacceptable, or unlawful behaviour. A simple example is “my wife doesn’t listen to me” so the proposition asks me to consider “do I listen to her properly” before going off on a holier than thou rant and a rave. My biggest challenge is to be more realistic about my own thoughts, words, and actions. Focusing on my side of the street, learning from my mistakes, and maintaining an on-going commitment to try and keep improving is as good as it gets. When I look back over the years I can see some progress and a huge opportunity to do better.

As we all know actions speak louder than words so if you spot it there is a good chance you got it. The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better, so why not focus your energies on becoming the best person you can

If you are self diagnosed superior human it is a given that character building doesn’t apply to you!