Be thankful when someone tells you you’re out of focus

In the film, Deconstructing Harry, Robin Williams played the part of Mel who was always out of focus no matter who looked at him. He looked fuzzy to everyone. The punchline is that at the end of the film all of his family members wear special glasses to be able to put him in focus. Rather than Mel changing, everyone else had to change.

In the book, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers, Fred Rogers talked about the dangers of sublimation, which means “the process by which socially unacceptable behaviors are channeled – sublimated – into more socially acceptable ways.” For example, he talked about how violence in children’s cartoons went from an unacceptable to an acceptable behavior. People thought it was out of focus to put a machine gun in a cartoon, but little by little they allowed it to become acceptable. They put on “special glasses” to make what was out of focus, and wrong, into something that was okay.

Please don’t fall into that trap. When someone says your behavior or your words or the way you phrase things are wrong or inappropriate, don’t attack back and make the other person change. Really consider the feedback that you may be out of focus and consider what you need to do. I learn the most when someone is honest with me in a private conversation and tells me I’m out of focus.

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