My dad use to have this old poop brown minivan.
If you google ugliest minivanever, it literally is the first image on the page haha.
He took care of that van because he had an hour commute every day.
And cheap so even though that thing was a piece of crap he took care of it.
One day my sister Rheagan and I were outside playing while my dad was doing doing yard work and washing the cars.
My sister was maybe 5 at the time and 5 year olds love to “help”.
I’ve got a 5 year old so I can attest to their “help”.
She decided she wanted to “help” wash the car.
So she grabbed what she could and started scrubbing away.
Upon finishing her work, she proudly examined her finish product and proclaimed:
“I washed the car papa!”
I glanced over to see her handy work and quickly averted my eyes as to pretend I had not just seen her masterpiece.
I’m sure my dad was surprised and proud as he heard this proclamation of hard work.
As he made the turn around the front of the car I slowly backed away and watched his emotions change.
My sisters had gleefully given the van her best version of Karate Kid wax-on/wax-off with……….sandpaper.
She didn’t know any better and he couldn’t really be mad at her because she was 5. But yes he was mad.
The laughter I wanted to let out was subdued by my fear that someone was going to die.
He turned to me and asked if I let her do it. Before he finished his sentence I replied “NOPE, I didn’t do it!”
There is a saying for things like this:
“What can’t be attributed to malice, must be attributed to ignorance.”
When I first hear this my thought was people are just stupid or they don’t give a shit.
As I’ve had more leadership experiences I don’t think this saying is about other people.
I think it’s about me and how I view other people’s, and my own mistakes.
Do people do a bad job because they want to or they just don’t know any better?
Are all those people really bad?
Did they not do the job right because they were trying to tick off the boss?
Did we not give clear enough guidance?
Did we not set the expectation?
Did we forget that we too once had to learn to do something for the first time?
Give people the benefit of the doubt
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt
The vast majority of people just don’t know any better, and it may seem obvious but it isn’t to most people.
We don’t have to like it, but it’s true.
Practice empathy when people mess up.
You will want the same treatment next time to wash the car with sandpaper.