Good Credit, Bad Credit

“How much credit should you seek” is a different question than “how much credit do you deserve?”

Something I reflect on pretty frequently is that I don’t like to think of opinions, thoughts, or ideas as “good/bad” or “right/wrong.” Rather, I like to think of ideas as either helpful or unhelpful.

Consider the following idea: “You are 100% in control of everything that happens to you. You have the ability to work through any obstacle with your choices and actions.” Is that idea right? Pretty obviously not. Even though I believe you have a great deal of control, only a fool would say it’s absolute. So the idea isn’t right, but is it helpful? I say that it is. Think about two opposite ideas: “You are 100% in control of your destiny,” as above, and “you have zero control over your fate; everything happens to you as a result of predetermined factors or other people’s influence. You can’t affect your own life in any way.”

Neither of those ideas is correct, but one is certainly more helpful than the other! If you believed the first idea, you’d work very hard in your life. Sometimes you’d put effort into lost causes, but most of the time you’d be a driving force for improvement and change in your life. If you put all your stock in that second idea, you’d be a hopelessly lost cause yourself, never trying (and therefore never accomplishing) anything.

So let’s get back to that idea of credit. There are a million situations where you could imagine deserving credit for something, but seeing how it would be more helpful to you to share it. Maybe you did the lion’s share of the work, but the other people who contributed less than you are nevertheless in a position to help you with your future goals. Is the value of “the credit you deserve” worth more to you than the value of the help you may receive?

One of the hardest things we ever have to give up is the concept of entitlement. Especially when, by all accounts, we actually do deserve the thing we feel entitled to.

There was once a man who saved up all of his money and invested in gold, purchasing a large bar of the stuff. Then he sailed across the ocean with his bounty, ready to use it to settle in a new land. A storm suddenly appeared and the man and his gold were thrown overboard. The man, unwilling to give up what was rightfully his, clutched his gold and refused to let go, even as it dragged him below the depths and he drowned.

That was his gold. He “deserved” it, as much as anyone can deserve anything. The gold being his was a “right” idea that was very, very unhelpful. That can be like credit – something you deserve, but will drown you if you cling to. Be careful about what you don’t let go of.

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