NOW AND THEN THERE’S A FOOL SUCH AS I…
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…?”
“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
“I have a question,” I said.
“Shoot,” he answered.
“Did you ever make a fool of yourself?” I asked
“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