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Monday, November 28, 2011

Splintered Relationships

There was a time in my life, many years ago, when I was a single Dad. I had been married to the wrong person for many years and when I finally made the decision to get a divorce I found myself living alone with an 8 year old little boy. All of a sudden I had to figure out how to get him up on time, make his lunch, get him to school, pick him up from school, help him with his homework and fix his boo-boos, all while trying to run my own business. Needless to say, it was stressful, but it was also fun and my son and I bonded in a way that was very special

One night as I tucked him in bed, he complained he had a pain. I took a look and discovered a huge splinter buried deep into the bottom of his right heel. It was nasty and probably my fault since I let him go barefoot way too often. I went to get a needle and tweezers but as soon as he saw those implements of torture he freaked out and started crying. I tried to explain to him that if we didn’t get the splinter out right away, his foot could become infected. He would have nothing to do with that logic and sent me packing. Being a newly single father I gave up and figured I would deal with it in the morning. (How do Moms manage to deal with this stuff??) By morning, sure enough, we were headed to the doctor with a severe infection and pain that was a lot worse. 

Several years later I was at work and complaining heavily to my General Manager. One of our employees had carelessly wrecked a piece of equipment. I didn’t know it at the time but the employee was nearby and overhead every word I said about him. Some of what I said was true, but the words I chose were hurtful and not something I would normally say out loud. I guess I let my anger and frustration get the better of me because I failed to apologize or do anything about it. I should have apologized right away and made things right but instead I waited for weeks and, sure enough, that employee quit and went to work for someone else.   

And that got me thinking….. I should have learned something from those two incidents, because they teach the same lesson. A splinter is like a mistake. If you don’t get the splinter out right away…or if you make a mistake and don’t apologize right away…. it will sit there and fester until it becomes far worse and creates a great deal more pain in the long run.

Relationships become easier when you realize that you don't have to be the one at fault, to be the one who's sorry.           ~Robert Brault