Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bad Decisions Make Good Stories

We all do it. We have those moments when we make bad decisions. If we follow the usual path of growth, and we are not affected by alcohol, substance or other abuse, the bad decisions we make become fewer and farther between as we age and mature. Sure, some of us do it more often than others, but the point is we all do it. Even the most mature and responsible person makes bad decisions now and again.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that bad decisions make good results. That almost never happens. Bad decisions usually lead to bad results. But when it is over, there is usually a good story there. Sometimes the story is funny, sometimes it is poignant, sometimes it is sad, but when you come out the other end and have recovered, there is almost something good to share. Maybe I feel this way because I am forever searching for the silver lining in every dark cloud.

Yesterday marked six years since The Ex and I split. Marrying him was a bad decision. Of course, I have no regrets because I got Sweetie and Stinker out of it, but if I am honest, choosing this person was a bad choice. There were signs that he was a bad choice for me, but either I was unaware of them at the time or I chose to ignore them. It was bad for me financially, it was bad for my self esteem, it was bad for my health, it was bad for some of my friendships and familial relationships, it was just a bad decision.  No matter, what's done is done and it does no good to look back. I've chosen to forgive him, and to forgive myself, and move on.  Even though the marriage was a mistake, our story is a good story full of friendship, laughter, love, family, joy, frustration, disappointment, heartbreak ... the gamut of the human condition ... and at least for me it has a happy ending (so far).

I started a new job six weeks ago and it is my goal to avoid making some of the bad decisions I made at my former job. As I've been thinking about some of the mistakes I made before so that I don't make them again, I find myself smiling at the story about the bad decision to go work for my former employer in the first place.  I have no regrets because it afforded me the opportunity to spend time with my children that I might not have had otherwise, and it forced me to become aware of my strengths and weaknesses as an employee, but it stalled my career.  I turned the job down initially, and I should have stuck with my instincts. It's a good story though ... female lawyer forges a non-traditional path in a tough profession, shines at times and stumbles at other times, gets terminated for putting family first, and comes out the other end stronger, wiser, more focused on her career ... and happy.

At a work retreat last weekend, we spent a lot of time around dinner tables telling stories. Why is it that so many of the best stories begin with "so I was out drinking one night ..."? Some of my colleagues made the bad decision to order bottle service at 1:30 a.m., knowing we had a 9:00 a.m. meeting. It was a bad decision for them - they were miserable at the meeting and for most of the day - but it's a great story that I'm sure we will recount at every retreat.

I've made plenty of bad decisions in my life, like that time I stepped in between two huge drunk guys to try to break up a fight, or that time I thought it would be fun to snoop around in my husband's email, or that time I ate the worm in Mexico .... Bet you'd like to hear the stories about those bad decisions!

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