The Undo Button

Monday, June 06, 2016 - By: Bud Patel

In the early 1990s, I discovered perhaps the most important technological advancement in a generation. After making a decision, almost any decision, I could simply press CTRL Z or Command Z, and the decision magically was UNDONE! This miracle could be applied to essays and emails. CTRL Z and it was gone.

I often wished this UNDO button applied to real life matters. If only I could undo the speed I carried down the Malahat to avoid that ticket. If only I could change my instructions to the barber – bangs are that cool. If only I could take back what I blurted out. For our students these daily decisions include questions like:

  • Do I study for that test OR take a break and watch Netflix?
  • Do I get to breakfast sign-in OR hit the snooze button one last time?
  • Do I choose to be optimistic or pessimistic?
  • Do I resist temptation OR make a poor choice?

Sadly, like toothpaste flowing out its tube, once an action is taken in the real world, there is no UNDO button. So how do we deal with these moments of error. Number one – as the Kiwis say - is “front up.” This mea culpa decision immediately takes the finger pointing out of the picture. Honesty goes a long way to making things better.

Number two, linked to number 1, is to find the space to be contrite. Saying “I’m sorry” also moves us along that UNDO journey.

Finally, accepting full responsibility and the subsequent consequences takes us to the final destination of reconciliation. Perhaps things are not fully UNDONE, but they are as close as we can get.

Last week during assembly, I asked students to think of moments that they would like to UNDO. Ms. Hedquist used it as a writing prompt in one of her English classes. It was wonderful to read the students' reflections on all sorts of decisions that were in need of a CTRL Z.

I hope we all can be more thoughtful in our approach to decision making and if and when the toothpaste has been released, we appropriately “front up.”

I invite you to share your UNDO moment with me.

De Manu In Manum,


Brentwood Logo
Play Youtube
Raise/Lower Content Zoom
load image