Overtly acknowledging that someone started something important or invented a wholly new product, process or movement seems like the decent thing to do. In fact, when another person is the pioneer or ups the ante it can be precisely the impetus we need to get moving and be more creative ourselves. After all, until we’ve started, it’s all really just talk.
But more often we hear it in the negative.
In the past week or so, two US presidential candidates, at opposite ends of the spectrum, employed the “yeah, but you started it” defense to justify a mean-spirited–and in one case, completely erroneously based–attack on their opponent. Confronted with this logic Anderson Cooper at least had the gumption to challenge one of them by saying “with all due respect, that’s the argument of a 5-year old.”
When we are acting like adults, we respect those that have come before us, we are motivated by other’s initiative and we learn to start before we are ready ourselves.
When we act like children, we get stuck in victimhood and a cycle of defensiveness .
When we have the choice, perhaps we should opt for the one with the best chance to unleash our potential and bring us all closer together?
And let’s not kid ourselves. We always have that choice.