The Honor Blog
Today is: Jul 4, 2022
Post From: Aug 31, 2020
Handling Embarrassing Flaws
A couple of weeks ago, I heard a story about King George VI of England, who was the British monarch when World War II began. The story had to do with one of George's weak points, which was that he had a stutter.
Stuttering is a very difficult condition for a child to work through. It is an embarrassing thing and opens the child up to mockery from his peers. It takes a lot of hard work to overcome that sort of thing - both physical work and emotional work.
The importance of that flaw to the story was that when Britain decided to enter the war, it fell upon George to make a radio address which would be broadcast across the entire British Empire, which at that time spanned the globe. The moment required him to be firm, confident, resolute - and not to stutter.
Knowing this, George worked hard with his speech coach to ensure that he would be able to deliver his address in the manner his people needed. After long hours of practice, he gave the address and it went very well. His speech coach reportedly said that he had done very well, though there had been a couple of wavers. To which George replied, ``Well, I wanted to make sure they knew it was me.''
I think that is a wonderful and instructive answer. For one thing, it shows a sense of humor - the ability to laugh, especially about personal things, is really important. More than that, though, it shows a great deal of wisdom, because it reflects the recognition that our flaws are part of us - and that they really do not lessen us.
One of the defining conditions of the human experience is insecurity. We all fear rejection, exclusion - we all want to connect with other people, to be accepted. And one of the most painful things a person can face is the reality that a flaw, an imperfection, might get in the way of that acceptance.
This is true at every age, for every person. However, I teach at an all-girls' high school, and I think we should be able to agree that this type of insecurity is particularly difficult for girls that age. Generally speaking, women place a higher degree of importance on relationships, and they also have a stronger tendency to weigh small and subtle relationship cues.
In response to those worries, it is common for people to work to hide their flaws. Failing that, they work to silence people who would recognize those differences. In essence, they lose their sense of humor. Fearing criticism, fearing that it might signal a lack of acceptance, people attack anyone who notices flaws in others.
The bit of wisdom we can draw from that anecdote about George is that it is a mistake to deny your flaws - and far worse to attack those who notice them, even in criticism and mockery. A far wiser course of action is to embrace them. When you do, you learn that they do not exclude you from acceptance, they do not lessen your value. Indeed, they make other people more accepting and supporting.