Friday, July 7, 2017

Gut Check

Let me start here: I made a mistake. (I'd be making another one if I didn't admit that right away.)

As tiny as the mistake was, getting called out for it stung more than expected. Why did it sting so much? Because I made the mistake while doing something kind. Expecting a "thank you" for the kind gesture, I actually got several messages about the mistake. It was not a good trade. My indignant gut wanted to respond, "Sure, there's a mistake, but what about this other great thing??!?!" Even though I just revealed that petty gut reaction right here, I somehow managed not to blurt it out angrily in the moment.
"Good thing nobody else heard that!"
Controlling an ugly gut response can be a useful skill. It's one that the boys have a chance to learn here (and one I can definitely keep working on). Two of the school's recent themes for the year have been humility and resilience, which are essential for quelling and transforming impulsive gut reactions. Even if the school hadn't spotlighted these two traits, the daily experiences here offer the opportunity to cultivate them.
Hypothetical Humility and Resilience Cultivation Scenario: 
You just scored a 92 on your biology test, your highest grade yet. Coach Pruitt even emits an exultant whoop when he returns it to you. Then you notice that you forgot to answer a question according to the directions, and it was a really easy question on genotype vs. phenotype!! You could have earned an extra 3 points! Instead of getting down on yourself for making the careless mistake or arguing with the teacher, you acknowledge it (humility), take the appropriate confidence from your high score, and resolve to perform better next time (resilience).
Scenes like that happen here all the time. The MBA culture encourages that kind of response, a response that yields growth, a response that helps the boys become the "young men of wisdom and moral integrity" in the school's mission statement.