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What’s Wrong With That?

December 4, 2020


Read through that list of formulas again. What jumps out at you? Is it the fact that I skipped number 4? Is it the fact I picked the number 12 for my example? Is it how neatly the column lines up?

I can pretty confidently say it is none of these. If we were having a conversation, I would ask the above question and wait for you to answer. Let me presume to suggest what you answer might be.

You are focusing on the fact that I got one wrong. Three times twelve is not forty-eight.

And that’s my point. This example is not unique to me, of course. But my point is the same as the other examples I’ve read. Don’t feel bad if you picked out the mistake. We all do. It’s in our nature to notice what’s different, what’s broken, what’s wrong.

The point of the exercise, is we often ignore multiple correct information, correct examples, right answers.

When I moved into my house eight years ago, my yard was a mess. It had been a rental for over 10 years. Some renters take good care of the yard, many do not. These were the second kind. I’ve been trying to get my yard in shape since I moved in. I’ve made great progress. Just this summer we upgraded our sprinkler system.

This year, I was finally able to get my dandelion crop under control. There are a few scattered, but not the carpet of yellow I’ve had in past years.

I’m reminded of a story. A man was walking through his neighborhood. He noticed that his neighbor, whose yard was normally an unended tabletop expanse of green, had a single offending weed, right in the middle of it. The yellow dandelion rose like a gladiator, standing alone on a verdant field of battle.

This lone weed distrubed the man. The rest of the way home he couldn’t stop thinking about it. It bothered him. Even though it wasn’t his house, he wondered how he might correct this injustice. Perhaps he could come back later at night to pluck out the offender. He continued to think through what possible options he might have.

The man was still considering his options when he arrived at his house. In fact he was so distracted he didn’t even notice that the dandelions in his lawn had started to turn into puffs of tiny parasols.

I’m at risk of mixing my parables, of course. The point was the man didn’t focus on the immaculate lawn. Instead he focused on the lone “mistake.” The second point is that we should clean our own houses first, before throwing stones at someone else’s yard. Or something like that.

So, the next time you pass a yard with a single weed, or a for that matter, a yard full of weeds, or you hear a singer hit a single wrong note, or you see a list of equations, remember it’s not about what we get wrong that’s important. It’s about what we manage to get right.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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