- Thoughts for inspired living

June 17, 2008

Wounded Healer

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:58 am

I have never met Tiger Woods, I only see him on television. I witnessed a gutsy performance this past 5 days from a wounded warrior during the U.S. Open. Tiger had knee surgery in mid April and came back to play in one of the 4 major championships held in golf each year. He won.

He was wincing in pain and truly wasn’t on his game. He won anyway. The Nike people must have gone crazy and I’m sure they have a commercial planned already, filled with Tiger’s grimaces and the “Just Do It” trademark ready to punctuate the performance.

Then I got to thinking about the antitheses of Tiger’s example – the people I refer to as “Wounded Healers.” These are gifted people who are terribly flawed themselves and don’t “walk their talk.” They have a great message but their personal behavior just doesn’t match up in many cases.

I must admit that I have difficulty hearing relationship advice parceled out by someone working on their 4th wife. I have trouble with someone who would cite the ancient writings and lecture on personal peace who died a hopeless drunk. I have trouble hearing nutritional advice preached to me from a celebrity who has had major fluctuations in their weight since they’ve been in the public eye. I’m sure you have your own examples.

Part of our dilemma is wanting our heroes to be perfect, something that will never happen because “perfect” is an antonym of “human.” The other part is our striving to be perfect – what I call “chasing the horizon.” I don’t remember where I first heard it but the following phrase put perfection into perspective for me: “Don’t strive for perfection; strive for excellence.” Excellence is achievable, perfection is not.

I think back on one of the greatest teachers I had who taught me more about communication and hypnosis than anyone else. He was truly a genius. He also smoked like a chimney. I had a friend that owned a major alcohol treatment center who had his child custody privileges revoked when found sprawled on the floor in a drunken stupor by his young daughter in his care for the weekend. My past pronouncement would have been “Hypocrisy.”

There is nothing wrong with their message. The messenger is wounded. It’s easier to affix the hypocrite label when the person is so pompous and holier than thou like the Jim Bakker’s, Jimmy Swaggart’s and Eliiot Spitzer’s of the world. Their messages were sound. Their behavior didn’t match. The famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote describes how we relate to these people, “What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.”

I’m beginning to look at them and myself in a more forgiving way – a way that doesn’t have me judge the messenger and miss the message.

What I have learned is twofold:

  1. If you shoot the messenger, you can’t get the message.
  2. The messenger may not have gotten it either, but maybe their only purpose was to deliver it to you.

All the best,


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