Few things in life are as difficult as admitting that you made a mistake. Sure, admitting that you made one mistake isn’t so bad. You apologize and move on. But what about when you were doing something without realizing it over a period of weeks or months, that slighted a friend and ally? That’s a lot harder.
There’s a pilot in my corporation who has a PvP record I admire. He can cite all of the match-ups and counter-strategies a person should use against every possible scenario. He can fly well in almost any situation, and he collects a large number of kills as a result. I’ve heard of a lot of good PvPers, but translating “good PvP” into specific thought processes, actions, and fitting decisions… that’s harder. This player was pretty much an archetype of a “good PvPer” for all these reasons. He claims “Eve isn’t that hard”, but while flying well is a matter of practicing knowable, good habits and applying them situationally, doing so in real combat situations is incredibly difficult. It’s because it’s so hard that I consider him to be so capable.
But, in studying at how he does what he does to gain those skills myself, I was trying to explain why he was so good. And my final conclusion came down to, “He plays all the time; of course he has so many kills.”
That, my friends, is a bad conclusion. It offers an easy – and incorrect – excuse that I was using to be lazy. It gives me an “out”: I can’t play more than a couple hours a day, so naturally I can’t hit those same heights.
But more than that, it insults him, by claiming that his achievements are the result of nothing more than stubbornness and “being there”. It completely overlooks the good habits, skills, and knowledge that lead to success. And that’s a huge disservice to him. And I didn’t even see that I was doing that.
Yesterday, I repeated my rationalization, and it set off a conversation that became more than a little awkward and frustrating. Amid them, he raised the point, ”You always say that, and it’s annoying.”
This threw me. Of course, my first reaction was that he was wrong, that he was trying to justify crummy behavior. How could someone be upset by pointing out a fact? My time WAS limited.
But as I was mulling over it, I saw it from his perspective and realized he was absolutely right. I did start this whole downward spiral, and while my comment wasn’t meant to insult him or belittle his achievements, it absolutely did. I was responsible for everything that followed.
I was ashamed and embarrassed. And, I took the first step by acknowledging it and apologizing. Not cool, man. Not cool.
Yes, this was a problem between the two of us, and normally I wouldn’t write about a personal interaction. But this blunder also represented a larger issue, a breakdown in my own thinking. And it seemed like a good, if uncomfortable, lesson.
Instead of looking at those good habits I observed and adopting them, questioning him about them, and really understanding more about how to “do it right”, I fell back on a tired excuse. I settled for “I can’t do that because my online time is limited.” It was the easy answer, and not only was it wrong, but it maligned someone else.
No one is above making mistakes, and no one should be above self-reflection. Rarely do mistakes – even simple or inadvertent ones – have the singular effect of making you look foolish. They can represent larger trends you need to correct. I was pissing someone off without realizing it, and that was a bad enough. But I was also hurting myself.
We make mistakes and we dust ourselves off, make it right as best as we can, and adjust our thinking to be better.