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Devarim(Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

Don't Re-Write History

In this week's Torah portion, Moses tells the Jewish people of additional details of events that occurred since they left Egypt. He goes into the disastrous episode of agreeing to let spies go into the Land of Israel, and says that initially:

"The idea was good in my eyes..." (Deuteronomy 1:23)


A LIFE LESSON

The mission of the spies was clearly one of the most devastating events in Jewish history. It was the very act that caused the Jews to wander in the desert for 40 years and resulted in many of them never being able to enter the Land of Israel.

Even though the spies' mission was so catastrophic, Moses still had the courage to say "the idea was good in my eyes."

How many times have you seen people back-track on something they said if events prove their position wrong? It seems that when people say something and then it doesn't work out as well as they or others had hoped, they'll quickly re-write history by changing the words they said, the ideas they vividly expressed, or views they had just passionately given. But Moses, being the great person and leader that he was, said to everyone that "the idea was good in my eyes."

This is rarely how leaders or people act today. All too often, heads of corporations, governments, or households back away from their previous words if the results turn out differently than they had believed. This isn't leadership. Leadership is about being honest and having the trust of those who believe in and follow you. Do these leaders really believe that people have that short a memory? The answer is: they really don't care.

They don't care because the real reason why people choose to re-write history is because of their own lack of self-esteem. Like most people, they don't want to look foolish - and they believe that admitting they made a mistake makes them look foolish. It doesn't. Ironically, it shows you to be a man or woman of conviction who isn't afraid to stand up when you make a mistake. Doing this isn't a knock to your self-esteem; in fact it's actually a huge boost to it. This is because taking responsibility will always make you feel great. Not doing so makes you a fraud.

The higher our self-esteem, they more readily we will be to admit our mistakes made because we don't see poor decisions as a reflection of our own self-worth. We hold ourselves in high self-esteem and know that any mistake we make can never damage that. Since people always learn and grow from their mistakes, we can actually GAIN self-esteem if we err because we know it will only make us BETTER people in the end.

People with low esteem, however, fear how people view them if they admit to making a mistake. So instead of owning up to it, like politicians, they chose to re-create the events of the past to be viewed in the best possible light. But again, ironically, your self-image actually gets stronger when you admit you made a mistake.

So, the next time you do or say something that turns out to be the wrong position to have taken, make a statement about who you are. Boldly announce that while initially "the idea was good in my eyes," based upon new information you now see things differently. You will not only gain the credibility, trust, and admiration of others, but you will also gain enormous self-esteem in the process.

Published: July 22, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) sid kim, August 5, 2011 8:16 PM

Excellent points

The little insight about self esteem, and self improvement based on 'it seemed good in my eyes' was eye-opening and can help others make little corrections in their walk and talk. Thanks

(5) Ephraim, August 1, 2011 4:07 AM

Self-esteem is one of the building blocks for wisdom & integrity.

While in the military I was assigned to an agency of the Pentagon. At the top of the board behind my desk, I had this statement, "We are trusted for our integrity!" Moses was followed for 40 years because of his self-esteem, wisdom, and integrity. I am going to print and save this writting for future reference.

(4) Anonymous, July 13, 2010 4:20 PM

I never gave the words of Moshe R' as a model we should follow. I simply thought it was a justification for what happened. Acknowledging one's error is action we should emulate.

(3) Valerie Hughes, July 20, 2009 12:26 PM

Insightful

Helpful article on how to use God's wisdom to live, and maintain integrity. As in many cases, God's ways are contrary to the ways we are used to, so strengthening us in ways we would shrink from, neturally. Acknowledging mistakes is strong leadership -but instinct tries to cover and hide, which causes shame and fear of discovery. Thanks

(2) Ana Hess, July 23, 2006 12:00 AM

Constructive

Excellent self-constructive article, easy t understand and to aply as well. Thank you. Toda Rava!

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