Volume XX, Number 31 (issue 983) August 1, 2022
Piece and Peace of Mind
How many times have you given someone a piece of your mind? How many more times have you wanted to say precisely what you were thinking, and you believed they needed to hear it, only to bite your tongue? One of the many things that fascinate me is the candor that frequently occurs and is accommodated in people of a certain age. In such situations it is said they no longer have a filter. I recall my late mother who was, for much of my life, this prim and proper southern lady who would never deign to cuss or swear – at least not to my knowledge. Yet, in her final months the filters melted away so that she freely expressed her thoughts with whatever words came to mind. The first time I witnessed it I was dumbfounded since her language was suddenly as salty as any sailor’s. This change in her vocabulary was not unique as I’ve had multiple friends and colleagues observe a similar phenomenon among their mothers, fathers, and other older acquaintances.
Honestly, efforts to hide our thoughts much like any attempt meant to suppress or eliminate certain inappropriate language from one’s vocabulary is the type of decision we must make for ourselves. In my case, the decision to refrain from using certain words in my vocabulary came about following a situation where I blurted out a particularly inappropriate four letter-word in front of one of our children. In that moment I realized I was not setting the right example for a pre-adolescent. Did they use that language anyway? I am certain they did since such talk and behavior is what they routinely witnessed among their friends, casual acquaintances, in the movies, and numerous other social settings. Their thinking was likely similar to mine at that age – believing as I did such language, much like lighting up a cigarette, made a person cool, slightly rebellious, and able to fit in. The thing is, habits, once formed, can be hard to break.
But there is another situation where we all should be willing to speak up but seldom do and that is when someone in a position of authority asks for or needs our honest feedback and for reasons of self-preservation, we keep our thoughts to ourselves. You know what I am talking about. A decision is about to be made without all the relevant information. It happens you know some, if not all, the missing information but rather than share it you stay silent. Such silence arises out of our fear that in speaking our mind it will not be well received. Consequently, a poor decision is reached that we might have influenced for the better. But do we kick ourselves? Probably not. Instead, we mentally critique their thinking and grouse to others about the poor decision that someone else made. If only they had asked us and been willing to listen a bad outcome might have been averted. Regrettably, in
choosing to keep our opinions to ourselves we denied the decision-makers of some relevant information. Thus, because we did not offer them a bit of our knowledge and experience (mind), we may soon lack the peace of mind that comes from being honest and outspoken – particularly when that input might have led to a better outcome.
Granted, there are those in a position of authority who neither ask for the opinions of others nor do they genuinely listen when such input is requested or offered – even when the different point of view is coming from someone who is closer to the work. Likewise, there are bosses who respond poorly to those who challenge their thinking, especially if the input sounds to them as if they are being told their baby (their decision, thinking, a.k.a legacy) is ugly.
It is said we must choose our battles wisely. There is much truth to that statement. Having someone who is carrying take offense and likely as not shoot you for a far lesser perceived insult has become a real threat in our society. My wife would gladly disable the horns in our vehicles for fear that I will honk at someone to get them to move only to have them draw a gun and squeeze off a round or two or thirty. There again, what does a tactical withdrawal (silence) do for our peace of mind when our opinion could potentially right or prevent a wrong? Let me suggest some battles are worth waging.
Soli Deo Gloria
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
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Copyright 2022 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.