In Rising Strong, Brene Brown discusses an experience that happened to her prior to a speaking engagement. The conference organizers arranged for her to share a hotel room with a woman for whom (how to say this delicately?) cleanliness was not next to godliness. Brene was so grossed out, angry, and insulted that she found herself rehashing the experience for several people. One asked her, “Do you think it’s possible that your roommate was doing the best she could that weekend?”
It’s a powerful question. In fact the scope of that question changed Brene’s life. And it gave me pause because this simple yes or no question has implications for how we see and respond to the world. This can apply to individuals or groups. How about the guy on the subway who yells at me because I’m not moving fast enough for his liking? Or the co-worker who emails me three times before noon to say that the schedule I provided is unacceptable, even though I’m doing the best I can? Are these people just doing the best they can?
Writers: Ask your main character! His or her answer may surprise you.
I’d like to turn this question over to all of you and share more of Brene Brown’s discoveries in comments. What do you think? Are people doing the best they can?