Monday, February 2, 2009

Lottery Winnings from the Super Bowl

Another Super Bowl Sunday has passed with the usual gathering of family and friends, tons of food and the excitement of an oh-so-close victory. This year was a little different for me because I won the lottery while the game was being played. Winning had nothing to do with the game itself or any pools I participated in (which were for entertainment purposes only). The lottery came in a lesson.

As part of my consulting for change management, I promote the wonderful old saying; “you learn something new every day.” My version has an added point “…and you reinforce something every day.” In my world, most of the time, if you learn something today, but forget it tomorrow, it served little purpose. But to learn something new each day and reinforce something each day, those learnings eventually become habits. Habits then are run more by your subconscious mind leaving your conscious mind free to learn even more. Super Bowl Sunday reinforced a lesson to me.

My Mother-In-Law, like everyone else who attended the party, brought over a dish that started with the first letter of her first name. Her name is Carol, so she brought chili. She has two recipes and both are great. Her problem this day was that she was missing cumin for her recipe. She called me and I assured her that we had some and pulled what I thought was cumin out of the spice cupboard.

When she arrived, she looked suspicious at the unmarked container of ground spice. She then caught a bit of the fragrance and immediately told me she thought this was ground cloves and not cumin. I assured her several times that I had never purchased cloves in my life, so this had to be cumin. She reluctantly added it to the chili, but the smell of the chili provided even stronger evidence for her case. The more she expressed her belief about the cloves, the more I resisted and built on my argument against it.

As it turned out, she was 100% right. The ‘cumin’ wasn’t cumin. Although the chili was still good, it wasn’t her great chili. But the chili itself was not the issue, my attitude was.

I teach my children never to say something is certain unless it really is; otherwise, state, “I think…” Even if you are certain, it’s often better to state “I think” first. Those two little words make your statements more acceptable to others. In my mind, each time you are ‘certain’, but are wrong, you tear down at your credibility and build up your know-it-all reputation. And no one likes a know-it-all. I acted like a know-it-all.

How in the world could I win the lottery from ruining someone’s chili? I won by learning and reinforcing something every day. I reinforced 2 lessons on Super Bowl Sunday. The first is that my children will always learn more from my actions than they will from my words – live what you teach your children. I didn’t do that, but I will remember to. The second was the lesson I try to teach them every day; never make being right more important than the truth. I allowed my arrogance to continue to argue a point that was wrong. Oh yeah, I got up Monday morning, looked deeper into the cupboard and found the cumin and it didn’t look anything like the container I thought. Lessons are greater than money any day.

1 comment:

  1. This is great food for thought Chris. The decision to enjoy your company in the moment rather than the need to be right is not always easy. We all want to be right once in a while and some people, all of the time! I applaud you for wanting to teach your children that being right is not as important as nurturing family and friends and creating a tranquil environment.