My wife and I are leading a LOVESTRONG Marriage retreat at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church here in San Antonio. Our Spiritual Mentor, Ms. Tina Guerra, recently made a comment that resonated with me.

When discussing a topic related to problematic actions and behaviors in a marriage, she said … “We have the option to change them or repeat them.”

Simple But Hard

Over the years, I’ve learned that the simplest advice is often the most difficult to follow. As Tina noted here, if what we are doing right now is counterproductive to helping our relationship, we have the choice to do something else.

That’s the problem! For many people, especially me, pride can get in the way. I’m aware of the right thing to do, but I fail to do anything about it.

Thinking We Are Right

A few months ago, I was assigned to a work initiative with a project manager, Steve, who thought everything he said was 100% right.

Let me share a bit of a conversation he had with an SME (Les) during a status meeting:

STEVE: So, Les … What do you think we should do with the new technology available to manage this database?”

LES:Based on the research my team has done, we believe there are too many unknown variables. At this stage of the game, it’s probably best to use the proven application on the market, as this will help us control our risk.”  

STEVE:That might be right, Les, but this cool technology can be a game-changer. We should give it a try.”

LES:I’m sure it can be a game-changer, but the issue here is we did not budget for it. Further, no one on our team knows how to use it.”

STEVE:I think you are being a bit negative here, Les. My recommendation is we go with it, and your team needs to find a way to make it a reality.”

Living Alone on an Island

As illustrated with this example, Steve really does not care what Les is saying. He asked the question about the new technology even though he had already decided what to do.

When I officiated Div. I men’s collegiate basketball, one of my supervisor’s would often give the following advice before we walked onto the floor: “Don’t referee like you are living alone on an island.”

He meant that all three referees must be on the same page. We need to make sure we call a consistent game.

Steve is clearly living all by himself on an island, and he is unwilling to consider other perspectives. The more he listens to himself, the more he feels 100% right.

Start with Humility

Honest change begins with humility.

I’ve known that admitting my faults and showing vulnerability is the right thing to do. However, I was hard-headed for many years (i.e., decades), and it was more pleasurable to try to prove my point … I was right, and the other person was wrong!

Today, I am far less concerned about being right. Instead, I am practicing Tina’s advice and changing my behaviors.

There are times when others might believe they got the best of me, but winning these trivial matters is no longer important to me.