Felons, Leopards, Spots and Feedback

Last night I accidentally had dinner with an old college friend. It was one of those fun chance meetings which quickly leads to a run down of every mutual acquaintance and what they are up to.

“… and Joe (not his real name) is a convicted felon.”

“What! Story please.”

Joe is a bright, talented guy who quickly became a successful businessman. My interpretation of the story is that his white-collar crime was not an oversight or an accident, but a substantial breach of integrity motivated by greed and vengeance.

I looked at my friend, “I am embarrassed and sad to say, that I’m not shocked.”

So why wasn’t I startled by this news? In my interactions with Joe there were times when things just didn’t feel right… in the way he treated his relationships… or stories that just didn’t stick together. At this point, the details are fuzzy… but I do remember thinking, “I should give him some feedback.”

I never did.

What if I had?

What if others had in the 20 years between then and now?

What if friends and colleagues had called this leopard’s’ spots as they saw them emerge-when the stakes were low. What if he had more ticked off people  calling his bluff along the way?  Would he have failed sooner and softer? Or, perhaps they did… I will never know.

What is our responsibility to hold up mirrors for our friends early in the game?

Do you think leopard’s can change their spots?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Interesting, while you were writing this, I was wrestling with a decision of whether or not to provide some feedback to some one.

    Reply

  2. Posted by marcus on June 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    i’ve been wrestling with a similar struggle. it feels like if you can find a way to give the feedback that provides an opportunity to change, not just a condemnation of the behavior.

    Also, I found that if I check my heart and discover any malice or anger, it will be harder to give the feedback in an honest, beneficial way.

    When I find malice or anger, it is probably me that needs the feedback.

    Reply

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