How To Love People When (Not If) They Disappoint You - Kris Vallotton

May 4, 2018

Have you ever made a mistake so bad that it felt like the end of the world? When I was a young teenager I made a mistake. This wasn’t your average stupid teenage mistake, rather it was colossal in my mind. I braced myself for the repercussions and onslaught of punishment that I believed would naturally follow messing up to the extent I did. I’ll tell you more about that in the video below, but do you know the feeling?

It’s in those moments that we can hope to be met by mercy, but often times we’re confronted with anger, shame and even blame. So let’s take a look at the other side of the coin—how do you treat mistakes when you’re not the one who made them, but rather the one who felt the pain and impact of them? There’s so much power in the way you respond to someone in their mess. My grandfather taught me this back when I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until recent years that I truly understood how big his love was for me in that moment. Check out this week’s Flashback Friday video for the full story. He was one heck of a guy.

In a nutshell:

  • I had seven cousins who were all girls and their parents would make them come down to my grandfather’s house for the holidays.
  • One year, when I was fifteen, my grandpa gave me the keys to his truck and said to take the girls for a ride through the orchard.
  • We went down the dirt road as fast as we could go and everything was shaking and I stopped just in time before we got to a cliff. I had my cousin hop out and direct me as I backed the truck up, and as I reversed a tree grabbed the door and ripped it off so that it was hanging on by one bolt. The girls all teased that grandpa was going to kill me.
  • When we got back to the house my uncles came out of the house and freaked out on me. My grandpa slowly followed behind them and slyly winked at me, which I knew meant, “I’ve got this. Don’t talk.”
  • He said, “Oh, you know what I’ve been meaning to take the doors off that truck for two years. It doesn’t need doors it’s a work truck. Go get the tools and take both doors off.”
  • I learned that you need to create a place where people can fail successfully.
  • My grandson ripped my garage door off a few years ago. I started to say something and Kathy said, “What would your grandfather do?”
  • It was in that moment that I had a revelation of how much my grandfather loved me.
  • I know this is not easy to practice but there’s something about loving people more than we love our stuff.
  • What would happen if we took ahold of people and we made room for them to do stupid things?
  • One member of our team did something really dumb years ago, and I called Bill Johnson to tell him it would be in the papers the next day. He said, “Do not throw him under the bus to save your butt. It’s our mistake, so take the blame.”

Nobody’s Perfect

The truth is that life is messy and none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, and we will all be around people who make mistakes that affect us. But what would happen in the world if we made room for people to make mistakes, let them learn how to fail, and helped them get back up? As leaders it’s so important to cover our teams in their humanity and help them learn from their faults and blunders. So the next time someone comes to you with their failure, I want to encourage you to remember your own imperfection and meet them where they’re at with love and mercy.

Today I want to challenge you with this question: the last time someone in your life messed up in a way that hurt you, did you treat them with the same grace that you hoped to be treated with when you make a mistake? Is this something that’s easy for you to do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Topics: All TopicsLeadership


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