No matter how amazing or respected a person is, be they an author, politician, economist, or anyone else highly praised by the general public for their talent and insight, everyone at some point in their lives has made a decision that to everyone else seems obviously wrong.
These decisions often have one thing common: After making the bad decision, the responsible parties justify their own actions. They attempt to shift the blame for their mistakes onto other people.
This kind of self-justification hinders rational thought. In Japan we say, “Every thief has his reasons.” This is truest when you are talking about your own actions. It is normal to believe that there is a rational reason behind what to other people appears to be an obvious failure.
This is particularly true for me. I cannot keep talking as if this were about other people. When I slip up even a little, I immediately try to justify what I have done. I always do this. I cannot stop myself.
But I also recognize why this is a human tendency I must battle. Self-justification is the reason why people seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. If I do not do something about this I am placing myself in danger. This is why I always make an effort to find someone to play verbal catch with, and why I go out of my way to hear the information I don’t want to hear.
The best response to failure is to think about the reason you failed and develop a method to make sure that you don’t fail the same way twice. Self-justification delays that response.