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Self-control when things go wrong

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Self-control when things go wrong

Scott Miker

Everyone has setbacks. Everyone assumes they are taking the right steps in life so when misfortune comes along we tend to get down emotionally. We pity our situation.

But we can’t stay down. We have to learn to see the situation for what it is, learn from it and then move on.

The other day I was watching a PBS show called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with my daughters. The show is a cartoon about a tiger that learns lessons and helps share those lessons with the young viewers.

This particular episode was about making mistakes. He emphasized some valuable advice for any age. He said, “”It’s okay to make mistakes, try to fix them and learn from them too.”

Through this simple message, it had my daughters both taking the advice. They could quickly respond after spilling a cup of juice to fix it and learn from it. They would talk through how to clean it up and then come up with some way to prevent them from making the same mistake in the future.

I was proud of them but realized how basic this advice was. Through a cartoon, young children were learning a valuable life lesson that many adults fail to accept.

Instead, we tend to look for ways to shift the blame. We find others at fault or we come up with an excuse for our mistake.

This reminds me of the famous quote by Dr. Bob Chope that says, “You can’t always control the wind, but you can control your sails.”

As adults we have more ability to control our sails than we realize. We have more power yet we seem to give it away to protect our ego. Because if we can fix it then that means that we might be responsible for it occurring.

Therefore, when we find ourselves in a bad situation, try to fix it and learn from it too. We have to learn how to put out the immediate fire. But we also have to take the next step and think through how we can adjust something in our routine to prevent it from happening again in the future.

In order to do this, though, we need to have self-control. We can’t react impulsively. Reacting impulsively will mean that we take the path of less resistance, which will almost always be to blame others.

It takes discipline to be able to own up to a mistake. But if we don’t have the self-control to do that, then we won’t be able to fix it and then learn from it. Instead, our energy will be spent trying to make excuses and shift the blame to someone or something else.