Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

The Double-Edged Sword

Although it’s debatable how many good qualities I have, I always felt I had at least one that was unquestionably positive. It turns out there’s a drawback to even that…

What am I talking about? Just this: I can keep my mouth shut. It doesn’t matter how irresistibly juicy the secret, if it is told to me in confidence, I will go to my grave without ever revealing it. This isn’t hard for me, it’s just how I’m wired – but it has a couple of unexpected consequences. The first is that I don’t gossip – OK, so far so good. I long ago realized if I couldn’t find something positive to say about someone else, it was better to simply keep my mouth shut – again, this all seems like it must be good, right?

One of the benefits of this behavior is that people tend to trust me. Having people’s trust turns out to be a very valuable commodity – it’s something that can’t be bought or coerced, it can only be given freely. It’s also something that must be built up and earned over time – we’re really talking about years here.

But the unexpected negative consequence is this: I’m often the last person to hear about what’s happening in the lives of the people I work with. Because I don’t gossip, no one talks to me about the current scuttlebutt, and that’s not always a good thing. For example, if someone is experiencing hardship or personal tragedy, I’m the last one to find out about it. Maybe I could have helped them in some way, or at least offered, but because I wasn’t in the loop I am powerless to help. In order to help you have to be aware there is a problem…

This is typical of how life works – even the things that seem to be completely benign and good can have unforeseen negative consequences. No big lesson or answers here, just an observation.

You just try to do your best, and understand that sometimes you’re going to fall short. It’s part of being human.