Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Man of Many Disappointments

I once knew a man who easily and often “wrote people off.”

His pattern was unvarying. He would start the professional relationship by elevating the individual to an extraordinary height. No one could be better. The object of his praise was “brilliant” or “insightful” and touted as one of the organization’s truly original talents.

The disappointment always arrived within a few months. A project was opposed or some disagreement surfaced and suddenly the star was a villain. There was never any middle ground. Now, all of the person’s motives were questioned. Memories were explored and what had seemed innocent or commendable was now clear evidence of a plot.

I noticed that the man’s enemies list grew at one organization and, when he went to another, fresh disappointments quickly produced a new list. Although outwardly cordial, the man was a very sad person. Who wouldn’t be if everywhere you turned there was an enemy?

The lesson that came from knowing him – aside from the fact that he needed professional help – was the importance of not rushing to ascribe bad motives; of understanding that a professional disagreement is not always a personal attack.

Oh, yes. There was one other lesson. It was how such attitudes can poison the soul.

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