Connected lessons: when should we forgive?

I connect things. I’m wired to. Sometimes it’s powerful, and sometimes it unnecessarily complicates. It can make for good integrated plans, but it can also result in tangled communications.

The past few weeks have been powerful. I’ve reconnected with two long-lost friends. One’s a guitarist I met while attending Berklee College of Music, the other a magazine editor I worked with for a short stint in my career.

The guitarist moved back to Israel, the editor moved a few blocks away from me. The guitarist I found on Facebook, the editor I found at the neighborhood frozen custard shop.

International, hyperlocal. The reach of social media, the power of sugar and cream.

Two very different people with whom I shared important times during transitional periods in my life. I learned important lessons from both of them. And the lessons connect.

The guitarist taught me about the importance of technique. That you have to work to get it, that it never comes easy, that it isn’t the end but rather a means to an end, and that you must have it to be great. I’ll forever admire his technique, his work ethic, and his steadfast focus.

The editor taught me about forgiveness. That bad decisions happen and we’ve all made them. And if someone owns it, demonstrates how they’ve learned from it and will change (demonstrating attrition is not enough), then we all have a responsibility to forgive. I’ll forever be thankful to her for forgiving me once, and instilling in me the responsibility to forgive others.

In my professional world I’ve connected these lessons to the recent high-profile marcom gaffs and the discussions that have followed. Mistakes from the likes of Cayne, Ballmer and Judge seem to me to be a function of sub-par technique. Business executives certainly know better, but sometimes they just don’t have the chops to execute correctly.

And it happens to all of us. So we should be able to forgive a brand or a person every now and again if they’re willing to learn and change. I’d suggest that this is a lot more powerful than fanning the flames.

I’ll point once again to this seemingly simple post from @chrisbrogan. What makes it a gem is the last section: This Could Be You.

A guitarist taught me that it doesn’t have to be. An editor taught me what to do when it is.