Happy Sunday my friend,
This past week was Yom Kippur, a High Holy Day for Jews in which God is asked for forgiveness for the people’s transgressions of the previous year through a period of fasting, prayer and reflection. I converted to Judaism in April of 2014 prior to marrying Rachel, and over the last three years this has become the most meaningful day of faith of the year for me. For three years now, I’ve been struck by how this day brings up so many areas in which I have fallen short and failed to be my best for myself and others who I care about.
The day also drives such a spirit of forgiveness that at its close I feel less burdened with grudges and judgments of others, as I take that long hard look in the mirror at all the things I have done, and I simply hope others will forgive me. When people ask me about my path to where I am today, I have to swallow my pride and admit that it has not been a smooth or even admirable path in many respects. The truth is I have hurt people in the course of becoming who I am today.
I ran into one of those people yesterday, who was part of a layoff at one of my previous companies. She didn’t deserve the way she was let go, but I was not strong enough to demand better treatment for our people from the rest of the management team. It haunted me right until yesterday when she walked up and said hi and without saying as much, seemed to let me know that she was ok and didn’t hold a grudge.
While we may try in earnest to be our best, we all fall short. We do the best we can with the tools we have available to us, intellectually and emotionally. If you are on a path of leadership, here is how you grow… forgiveness. If you can’t make it past the mistakes that you will inevitably make, forgive others and maybe most importantly forgive yourself, you can’t progress.
Without forgiveness you can’t get over failures and see them as learning opportunities. You can’t avoid the paralyzing grip of blame (of others or yourself) without forgiveness.
People make mistakes. Leadership requires that we acknowledge this truth, protect that which we are responsible for, but forgive whenever possible.
On the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur, Jews ask God for forgiveness. But what really happens is we acknowledge that forgiveness is a divine act, and one that not only God is capable of, but we humans are as well. I hope to carry this spirit of forgiveness into the new year as long as possible, and hope you can too.
To the gift of forgiveness… on the Grind,