Think before you ____

Just fill in the blank! Seriously! Earlier this evening, I saw a disturbing example of how easily a mistake can have serious consequences. Someone posted a video of a car veering into the oncoming lane while the driver was texting, from the point of view of the cars that were almost hit head on. Now why the driver was recording their trip in the first place is puzzling to me, but I’ll contemplate on that another time. The point is that we can do something with very little thought, that has far-reaching, or even life-changing consequences.

A short while after viewing this video, I posted something on Facebook. It was a silly thing, targeted at a friend whose business showed up on the driving directions I had been querying on. When I posted the comment about it, I accidentally added it to a post that another friend had made announcing the birth of her second grandchild. So here she is, all excited about her baby’s baby, and here I am talking about how another friend’s business showed up on a Google map. She was confused, and so was the person who owns the business!

In my feeble attempt to fix it, like a good citizen, I deleted the comment and reposted it the the right place. When I checked to see that it posted correctly, there was my home address, boldly printed at the bottom of the map, for all the world to see. What started out as a simple comment to a friend was continuing to snowball. Now this was a fairly inconsequential series of events that resulted in a few laughs, and maybe some minor head-scratching, but nothing more (I hope!).

The lesson isn’t about posting on Facebook or being silly. It’s about being distracted and careless. When we let ourselves become distracted by little things, or fail to give our actions our full attention, they can turn into big things. Today, it was sort of funny. If I was the person driving the car in the video, it might not have been so funny.

It is important for us to use our words, our thoughts and our actions carefully. Think first, then act. In the words of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements (one of the most important books ever), “Be impeccable with your word.” Simple advice. The more mindful we are of our actions, the less harm we can avoid for ourselves and others.

So, if you remember nothing else, remember this Public Service Announcement brought to you by Lessons Learned: “Think before you ________!”