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Laughing at Myself to Make My Day

It took an extra ring to turn off the phone alarm. I was loud getting up on the second day of my school teacher wife’s summer break.  I ate too much last night so I gained weight. I decided to read the paper, so I was late for my men’s prayer group. I grabbed the wrong leftover for lunch and had to go back and change it, making me even later to Outback men’s group. I forgot the last name of my small group partner of three years during our entire twenty minute conversation. I left my business card holder in a new place in the car and couldn’t find it to give to a new client at the end of our meeting. And its only 9 am.

 And I am smiling.

Seriously. Laughing at your failures, mistakes, and uh-ohs is a great way to maintain a proper perspective and keep your attitude from getting too uptight. As in sports, relaxation is necessary for peak performance. Laughing at oneself is the gateway to a great day.

The best way to avoid taking oneself too seriously is to take inventory of all the things you mess up. When I do this, I am usually amazed at how well I am actually still doing. I used to get upset and promise myself to do better.  As my friend Phil Webb reminded me this morning, most of us damage ourselves with unrealistic expectations.  The harder I tried to avoid mistakes, the worse I felt when they occurred.

Thanks to a lot of motivational tapes and books, I came to realize that mistakes were part of progress. When I started making progress, the more I thought about all the mistakes along the way, the funnier they became. And the more I laughed at my mistakes, the better I did. I sometimes think I could reach the final in a new reality show, The Biggest Mistake.

I also came to realize that God’s grace was bigger than even my worst mistakes. The good things that always followed my mistakes were more HIS doing than mine.  That humbled me and also left me more compassionate of others. Showing compassion and even humor in dealing with my team members actually lead to better performance. And when I modeled laughing at myself, the team got the message. My workshop reviews have improved as well. If you’ve been to one you know I provide plenty of reasons to smile.

So here is my tip for how to approach your next evaluation of a subordinate.  Chronicle your screw-ups, missteps, bad decisions, and just plain stupid moves. If you can’t think of any, ask your spouse or your best friend of over 10 years. Trust me they’re there.  Then realize that in spite of all those events, you are where you are.  Smiling yet?  Then write your evaluation.

I can’t wait to see how the rest of today unfolds.

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