Do you ever develop an opinion of somebody and never let it go?
No? Ok, let me throw a name at you:
Oh, so you DO develop opinions about people and never let them go after all! Admit it, when you hear the name Bill Clinton you think one of two things:
1. Former President who had a sleazy affair with an intern.
2. Sleazeball who had an affair with an intern while he was President.
Heck, even if you liked him, you still think one of these things!
In any case, you’ve got an opinion of the man you’ve been holding onto for a long, long time. News of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky broke in January of 1998. As of this writing, that’s more than 13 years ago!
I hope you don’t hold opinions about me based on what I did 13 years ago. I’m a different person. I’ve hopefully grown into a smarter, kinder, more experienced, more positive, more collaborative, more generous guy. In other words, I’m not as stupid as I used to be. Doesn’t mean I don’t still make mistakes, but hopefully they are fewer and farther between.
**Disclaimer** THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT. I’m not defending Bill Clinton. I’m not asking you to vote Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, or anything else (although I do think everyone should vote). Before you send me hate mail about pushing a political agenda in my newsletter, take a deep breath, open your mind, and listen to what I’m saying. **End of Disclaimer**
Know why I’m writing this today? Because I heard two different preachers in the past two weeks mention Bill Clinton as an example of someone with a character flaw. Yeah, I said PREACHERS.
So, if our preachers — who are supposed to model forgiveness and transformation — hold on to their opinions of people for 13+ years, I know the rest of us do it, too.
I have my own “Bill Clinton” in my work life. I worked with a woman (ironically 13 years ago) that I could not STAND. To but it bluntly, she was full of herself. She jockeyed and positioned herself as an “expert” in her area with nothing more than pure B.S. She was smart for sure, but she presented herself as far more knowledgable than she really was. And she really rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t think she liked me much, either, because I made it a point to expose her fraudulent expertise every once in awhile. Like I said, I hope you don’t judge me by how I acted 13 years ago.
I haven’t seen, heard from, or spoken to this woman in the past decade. But I have still complained about her, criticized her, and held my opinion of her all this time. I have no idea where she is or what she’s doing now. But one thing I do know is that she’s not the same person she was 13 years ago and I have been treating her as if she is. She likely has gained tons of experience and has contributed many great things to the world since I last saw her. So today, I changed my opinion of her.
After hearing the two preachers use Bill Clinton as a negative example in their sermons, it made me wonder who I had been holding an unfair opinion of in my life. The woman I mentioned above came to mind immediately. I hate it when I have to admit my own flaws! Funny, I don’t think either preacher meant for me or anyone else to have this particular “aha” moment from their sermons.
Most people have no idea what Bill Clinton has been up to since he left office. I’ll admit I didn’t, either. I did Google him, though, and it turns out he’s done some pretty admirable things as a former President.
Some of you may never let go of your opinion of Bill Clinton. I’m ok with that, because the point of this article is not to forgive Bill. It’s to challenge you to examine how close-minded you might be and not even realize it.
It’s also to encourage you to maybe give somebody a second chance. Don’t be ruled by a “once bitten, twice shy” philosophy. When you do that, you end up alone in your rocker having afternoon tea with your twenty cats because they’re the only ones who never let you down.
Holding poor opinions of others is a sure-fire way to erode relationships, store up unnecessary negative mojo, and stunt your personal growth. Let it go.