Trust, Friendships, And Mistakes

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From The Desk Of J.C. Dodge

Mason Dixon Vixen just recently wrote this post about trust and why who you surround yourself with is a big deal. So why is who you put trust in and keep as friends so important? If you don’t have someone to counteract or at least level out the negative crap you get every day, you will fall prey to the “Beast of Negativity”, and he will more than likely take you to one extreme or the other in your reaction, and neither is healthy or helpful. As I’ve gotten older, I have surrounded myself with friends that are oriented towards the same goals as I am. All of us at one time or another get a case of the “screwits” (In the last year, I’ve had it a few times), and good friends not only understand (because you all have the same “end state” goals, right?), but can bring you back to proper focus, and at times tell you to “Get your head out of your ass”! I have a lot of acquaintances, and a few friends. I’d take a bullet for any one of my friends, and I know it is reciprocal.

When it comes to trust, I’ve been burned pretty hard before and multiple times. I’m going to give some personal examples, they are for illustration purposes, and who it was is not important. In one incident, I trusted a good friend with my financial standing, and they ended up burning me badly. Out of that the end result was something that took years to recover from financially. Do I blame them? Yes and No. They took advantage of our friendship and my trust. I foolishly gave them the ability to destroy me financially, and to make matters worse, I didn’t keep an eye on things (I trusted them, right?). Ultimately, it was my fault, and I took responsibility for it.

We all make mistakes, and hopefully, you survive it, learn from it, and don’t lose anything but maybe your dignity because of it. I have had a Damned horse shoe in my pocket when it comes to mistakes. Whether it was while in the military (young and dumb, I was a PFC twice LOL), or as a civilian, I’ve screwed up a number of times (nothing illegal, but I still screwed up), but I always took responsibility for my actions, and learned from the experience (remind me to tell you sometime about being stupid and missing a corner on a back road while on my ZX-10 at 95mph LOL).

In the past year and a half, I made the mistake of speaking up for someone (putting my reputation in the preparedness community on the chopping block) I believed had been screwed over by “The Powers That Be”, and after hearing him tell his story, I mistakenly believed him. A number of us in the community put our faith in someone we believed had the best intentions at heart. but unfortunately it appears our faith was misplaced. We simply should have performed more due diligence. Was it our fault? Hell yeah it was. What were we thinking?  I can tell you what I was thinking. I thought that giving a guy this chance, after he had been given what he told us was a raw deal by the “authorities”, would be the right thing to do.

Giving him the opportunity to prove he could societally redeem himself, and be a power for good would be something that I was wholeheartedly behind (I see so much negative crap every day at work, it would be a nice change of pace). So what happened? The Short version is that he started acting and saying things contrary to what he said he believed, among other things. When those certain “tells” were triggered, and I started doing more research, I found I/we had been snookered. Do I regret trusting him? No. “Why not?” you ask. Because I will never regret trying to do what I believe is the right thing and give someone with a less than stellar background the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove society wrong.

Would I be cautious to trust someone with a similar background again? Hell yeah, I’m not a fool (no matter what you’ve been told). But caution is not a “Hell No!” either. We all have to take responsibility for our actions, no matter what they are. Good intentions are no excuse for throwing caution to the wind, and I own that mistake just like I own the myriad of mistakes I’ve made in my life. We wanted to see something great come from our trust, and it was abused, it’s that simple.

Regretting mistakes you make in life should only be your mindset if you didn’t learn from them (life lessons, right?). One of the things we desire as trainers in the military at any leadership level (Team Leader and above) is that your soldiers make mistakes (especially big ones) in training. If they make the mistake there and you can impressed upon them the real world outcome, possible loss of life, and/or mission failure, due to their mistake, it’s huge. But they have to learn to OWN IT! (this was a huge tell when we were evaluating future NCO’s. Did they own their mistake, or did they make excuses about why it wasn’t their fault) If you can do this in training, you will have given your junior and future leaders the tools they need for success when it really counts.

Make excuses all you want when it comes to your mistakes, but in the end you know who was responsible, and where the blame lies. What we are preparing for will not suffer fools and their excuses. Don’t want to prepare? MISTAKE! Don’t want to get training? MISTAKE! Don’t want to do PT? MISTAKE! Don’t want to get with family, friends, or neighbors to train together? MISTAKE! See a pattern?

The point of preparing for hard times is to give you and yours a better chance of surviving it without relying on the generosity of others. The point of getting training is to make you better at making decisions quickly and under stress, and learn it from someone that has relevant experience. The point of PT is to become less mistake prone (something that happens when you’re sleepy or physically smoked) and better able to physically carry out decisions you make and the gear you need to accomplish the task at hand when you do it. The point of training with your group is to improve your ability to work together and make the mistakes TOGETHER in training. If you do that, you will be better able to deal with the real situation when it’s in your face.

Trust those that have earned it, and use caution with those that haven’t. Befriend, network and train together with those of like mind when possible.  Last, but most certainly not least. OWN THE MISTAKES YOU MAKE AND LEARN FROM THEM! Anything else is just juvenile mental masturbation.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

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4 thoughts on “Trust, Friendships, And Mistakes

  1. I have lived by the plan that while I will hang out with most folks /engage in activities with them till I have known them 5-10 years do not consider em true friends and trust them.You get to that point you have been with em thru the best and worst of times and thus know em and trust them,only one person screwed me that I knew for 20 years and what bothers me most is how he got into my inner circle for lack of better word,failure on me part.Friends have at times failed on small things with me and sure have done the same at times with them,when it really counts though we have always been there for each other,that’s when you know who your friends are and who you can trust,at least for me.

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