imageIn life, we tend to negate personal fault. As Buddha claimed, “The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of oneself is difficult to perceive; a man winnows his neighbor’s faults like chaff, but his own fault he hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the gambler.” This is similar to Christ:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

When I think of the US Ryder Cup team performance and Phil Mickelson’s open criticism of Team Captain Tom Watson, I think of the above two statements. Judge not, that you will be judged.

A clearly ticked off Phil Mickelson implicitly bashed U.S. captain Tom Watson for the team’s routing by the European team. The proceedings were especially uncomfortable given that the remainder of the US team were sitting at the same table during Mickelson’s rant. It was the true self-centered, epiphany … “he’s responsible; she’s responsible; their responsible. But I am not responsible.

Deserved or not, Watson became the Ryder Cup scapegoat. Accordingly, most coaches know they’re in the true ‘hired to be fired’ position. As a coach, no matter what you do or say, you’re bound to be fired for lack of performance. With that being said, the hallmark of a good leader is the ability to accept fault, to self-assess. It’s the willingness to review the past and think about what could have been different. Self-assessment is crucial in sports and whether you play in a community of golfers or in a work project, the ability to self-assess is crucial to team success.

Most of us, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson included, rarely self-assess. In truth, regardless of race or position, honest self-assessment is one of the most vital steps in life, it is also one of the most difficult.

In attempting to assess ourselves we no longer observe an external person or entity as the sole proprietor for our sins. Instead we sit at the seat of observation itself, the most elusive center from which we gaze out upon our world and cast all motive to critical light. Entering this domain of inquiry runs counter to personal identity. Yet doing so, we can pierce through the thick screens of delusion and blind ego all have.

If Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson are to grow; for that matter, if we are to grow; the role of honest self-assessment is a prerequisite. Even a beautiful bowl, discarded in a dusty place, only becomes dirtier and dustier. Thus, if we fail to recognize the blemishes of our minds we will not make any effort to eliminate them, but will continue to harbor greed, hate and delusion and will die with a corrupted mind.

And just as a dirty bowl is cleansed and polished, in time, we too become radiant. So if we recognize the blemishes of our minds, we can arouse our energy to purification. The task of self-knowledge is always a difficult one, but it is only by knowing our minds can we shape them. It’s only by shaping our minds that we can become better.

Until you can do that, never publicly roll your teammates under a bus.