One of the most important aspects of living is to review oneself often. Someone called it "A road less traveled." Yes, it is frightening to do a review on our own life. Spiritual communities do it on a daily basis. They call it “Examination of Conscience.” For Laymen, an explicit feedback on our life will be very useful in growing up.
Recently I read a book where “Clementine’s Advice” was reproduced. It kept me thinking if explicit feedback on my life was essential for my improvement. Yes, I know that explicit feedback from wife, children, family, and friends will make a huge difference in each of our life, if taken positively.
Clementine Churchill had a fierce loyalty to her celebrated husband, but she rebuked his excesses and tried to repair the fractured chain of his relationships. The country, as much as he, owed a debt to such a wife because she preserved Sir Winston from succumbing to the corruption of welding absolute authority over the nation. Making an explicit comment is as tricky as the comment itself. Else, it will do more damage to the commentator and the subject of the comment.
In June 1940, during the upheaval of WWII, she wrote him a letter. She held it for 4 days, tore up the letter, finally reconstructed the torn letter, and then sent it. It lies in the archives in that condition and reading the letter tells us why she must have hesitated: remember that was the big war in progress and Sir Winston was at the heart of it as the prime minister.
The letter goes like this :
My darling, I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something that I feel you ought to know. One of the men in your entourage, a devoted friend, has been to me and told me that there is a danger of your being dislike by your colleagues and subordinates because of your rough, sarcastic and overbearing manner… if an idea is suggested, say at a conference, you are supposed to be so contemptuous that presently no idea, good or bad, will be forthcoming. I was astonished and upset because in all these years , I have been accustomed to all those who have worked with and under you, loving you --- I said that and I was told ‘ No doubt it is the strain.’
My darling Winston, I must confess that I have noticed deterioration in your manner; you are not as kind as you used to be… It is for you to give orders, but with urbanity, kindness, and if, possible, with Olympic calm… I cannot bear that those who serve the country and yourself should not love your as well as admire and respect you… Besides, you won’t get the best results by irascibility and rudeness… Please forgive your loving, devoted and watchful Clemmie..
I wonder if there is a "Clemmie" in my life.
May be, the wilderness and the frozen brooks of Himalayas does helps anyone to rediscover himself and improve upon his character. But ... but a "Clemmie's" letter helps .... !