One could feel the tension, even on the conference call. We had already missed several deadlines. The final ones of the day were looming. Things were bad and getting worse. Just how bad it was going to be rested on the discussion at hand.
“I think the problem is…”
As the details spelled out, I continued to ask the obvious. “How do you know this is the problem? Why are you sure?”
The discussion circled round and round. Various rationales were offered. I listened with interest. I could feel the need to act. Type A personalities tend to err towards to action. I recognize the attitude (I am Type A in many things). They want to act! They feel they need to act. Facts give way to an emotional force that frequently overwhelms. In this case, it was increasingly difficult to find any facts in the conversation.
There is a warning that has transcended generations. In an old story, one author notes that when “seeing the snake hanging from Paul’s hand like that, the natives jumped to the conclusion that he was a murderer getting his just deserts. Paul shook the snake off into the fire, none the worse for wear.” (Acts 28.5) The obvious may not be so.
At some point in our debate I realized I had a choice. I could caution or I could try to overrule. I was not physically present so it was unclear if I could actually overrule even though I was the senior person on the call. I took the easy way out. I warned with conviction. I encouraged each on the scene to spend more time confirming the root cause. I also let go.
There are times when our freedom means we have the opportunity to makes mistakes. This crisis was an opportunity that those on the scene took advantage of. The error of the decisions then took two days to start appearing.
Making mistakes is a natural part of living. Our judgment can improve with mistakes. The change is conditional. We must choose to embrace the lessons.