How Clean Is Your Vest?

Seven years ago, I won a lifetime account for an online course platform. I was extremely happy to use it to sell my writing course, and I have recommended it countless times over the years. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m one of their best “salespeople.”

Some weeks ago, as part of a platform upgrade, my account stopped working. I went back and forth with customer support for a while, until, eventually, someone informed me in their best “corporate speak” that I would soon have to pay like everyone else.

I spent the next few days being angry. “Lifetime, pah! Seven years, and they’re already breaking their promise! I will never recommend this place again! I should pull all my content! What a morally bankrupt company!” The situation still isn’t resolved, and my relationship with the platform has probably changed forever, but a few days into the dilemma, I asked myself: “Am I doing the same thing somewhere?”

As of right now, I haven’t — but one day, I might. On Four Minute Books, we, too, offer a lifetime membership, and I have no idea whether that’ll last forever. What happens if I have to shut down one day? Or sell the company? Those people might also end up in front of a broken promise, and in that case, I’d be the one doing the breaking.

It’s easy to get outraged about something when your vest is squeaky clean, but the truth is we often choose outrage regardless of how our outfit looks. Once we regain our composure, at least enough to straighten our jacket in front of the mirror, we might spot a stain that looks oddly similar, and if we do, we get to offer ourselves several new options, such as forgiveness, compromise, and a more rational way of looking at the situation.

The next time you find yourself pointing at someone’s dirty clothes, take a second to check: How clean is your vest? You might not like what you find, but you may find a way forward you like better because of it.