Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson   


     Once I received a letter informing me I had been nominated to attend a business seminar in Boston.  “Hmpf,” I thought to myself.  “I’ll get out of this in short order.”  I knew exactly where to go and whom to talk with to rectify this stupid mistake.  My boss.
     I really liked this guy.  He was down to earth and he liked me as well.  I marched into his office and said, “Some higher-up doofus in the company has scheduled me for this worthless training in Massachusetts.  I’m hoping you can get me out of it.  First of all, I don’t have time to go, secondly, the training will be a complete waste of time.  Anyone could see that by reading the brochure.  So, can you fix it?” I asked with a smug smile on my face. 
     “Yes,” he said.
     “Great,” I said.  “Well, gotta’ go.  Lots to do.”
     Just as I was leaving, he said, “Michael…?”
     “Yes, sir?”
     “I was the higher-up doofus that scheduled this training for you.  I was hoping you could go gather information that might help our people here.”
     I never slowed down – just kept walking right on out the door.  Went to my office and sat there for two hours, and died a really slow death. This man had been so kind to me – so good and patient with me, and I said those words to the best leader I had known so far in my life.  And I sat there…and died some more.  Two hours later, I went back to his office…
     “I have a question,” I said.
     “Shoot,” he answered.
     “Did you ever make a fool of yourself?” I asked him.
     “Many times,” he said.
     “I beg your forgiveness,” I said.
     “Granted,” he said.
     I’m still not over that.  That little episode cost me so many sleepless nights.  I vowed to never do anything like that again.  Yet, I did it again today.
     I have a friend.  He is so very successful and he flies high.  Yet, when I was struggling, when I didn’t know how to spell my name in the business I’m in, he appeared and extended his hand to me.  Me, the lowest of the low; a stumbling, bumbling beginner.  This superstar comes out of nowhere to befriend me.  In our early conversations, I was so in awe of him, I couldn’t speak a complete sentence.  Yet, he treated me as if I had as much value as some famous person.  I sat at his knee learning all the while, and wondered each and every time this person would take the time to help someone like me.  Our friendship grew over the years and became intertwined like an old overgrown wisteria vine.  And today, I hurt his feelings.
     The details don’t matter.  I asked him a question that he interpreted – rightly so on his part, justifiably so on his part – that he interpreted as an accusation.  He was, needless to say, hurt and angry, and let me know in no uncertain terms.  And the worst part of it all…he was right.
     On a couple of occasions in my life, someone has done the same thing to me.  Asked me something, told me something, or did something that made me angry and hurt me deeply. That’s what I did to him.  Doesn’t matter that I didn’t mean to – just matters that I did.
     And what do I do now?
     When those two people – years apart – did the same to me, they called and asked for forgiveness.  I said that I did.  Truth is, while I acted like everything was fine, it really wasn’t.  That little speed-bump in our history is still there.  The person they hurt – that person being me – wasn’t much.  The person I hurt is precious to me and a rare human being who helps thousands.  Whose sin is worse?
      My friend said he forgave me – and I pray that he has - but not before we had several serious discussions.  Later, he wrote me the following…
     “The friendship or relationship cannot be judged during the good times, but only during the difficulties.  You and I experienced the worst possible storm, and I’m proud and pleased to say that we have emerged as we were before – the most trusted colleagues and the best of friends.” 

     Which proves what I’ve known all along.  He’s a better man than me.

                                                                              -- Michael Johnson

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