Whenever I travel to Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria, I ensure that I make the most of every opportunity to enjoy a bowl of fish peppersoup. It is such a delicacy and I go for fish in particular because of delicious varieties of fresh fish available over there. It’s usually nicely prepared with the regular spices, but it’s not complete without pepper, a reasonable amount of pepper… not enough to make the nose runny or burn the lips, but enough to give life to all the other spices and create a beautiful symphony of tastes in your mouth and makes it an unforgettable experience.
Some time ago, I made a mistake. It was one of those oversights with far reaching consequences. Fortunately, I found out in time to avoid the consequences, but I still had some retracing of steps and some rework to do. It wasn’t pleasant, and there were others in the picture so it was also embarrassing.
The reactions of the few people involved were different. Some said, ‘this is such a funny mistake, it could happen to anyone’, some others said, ‘this is not good… this is unacceptable… how could you let this happen… didn’t you check?’ and so on. I wished at the time this was going on that everyone would take it lightly, but now, I’m grateful for all the responses, the gentle as well as the harsh.
I’ve come away with a combination of impressions. Here they are:
• We are human… We make mistakes sometimes… but we must do all that lies in our power to reduce the number of mistakes we make
• Just as we expect to be forgiven, we should be forgiving. And when people make mistakes, we should choose our response appropriately – gentle or harsh. If we choose harsh, we must ensure that it remains constructive and that it is administered in the right amount such that just like the pepper in the soup, it doesn’t burn the ‘receiver’ but enhances the lessons learned and leaves a stamp to make it unforgettable.
Can we think again about how we react to the mistakes of others? Is there room for improvement?