The easy way to learn is from others’ mistakes. The hard way is from your own mistakes. The tragic way is not learning from either. Zahoor

Most great literature involves some form of tragedy. While Shakespeare also wrote brilliant comedies, his finest work typically involves the pitiable downfall of otherwise noble characters. Greek tragedians followed a similar pattern of creating admirable personas who met with inevitable demise. So the readers and the viewers of these epic tragedies truly felt for Oedipus or King Lear, largely because they were complex personalities with whom the audience could mostly identify and admire.

None of us are as famous as those giant protagonists of literature, but we all share their foibles of personality that either sidetrack our lives or limit our potential in some way.

In other words, we all share the vexing limitations of personality that The Bard and Sophocles imbued in their play’s characters. Our goal, therefore, is to overcome our personal flaws in order to achieve our goals and aspirations. The “trick” of course, is to recognize our handicapping tendencies. In the past I’ve written, both in previous newsletters and in my book, about the proscription to “go against your tendencies.” If we are too shy, we must push ourselves toward extroversion. If we are short tempered, tongue biting and “ten-counting” are the appropriate antidotes. And so on.

So what is your tragic flaw? It probably doesn’t truly generate a tragedy, but it is almost certainly producing a noticeable limp that keeps us from striding forward. Discovering one’s flaw requires brutal honesty and intimidating introspection. It is not for weaklings! But how do I get there?

Perhaps the beginning is in recognizing, for example, that you may see yourself as weak (or stubborn, or lazy, or sloppy, or stupid). Are you really any of those characteristics? Are they a genetic trait that you are doomed to repeat? I don’t think so, but it may be a belief that you’ve accepted without basis.

We shed our “tragic flaw” by the following steps:

1. Recognize the flaw (i.e. “I am lazy.”)

2. Consider its source (i.e. messages from parents as a child, a painful or embarrassing experience as an adolescent, or a failed event as a young adult.)

3. Reject the flaw, as it is not a factually based belief. (For example: “I’m not lazy when it comes to my hobby or when I’m helping a friend.”)

4. Frame a new functional thought. (i.e., “I choose to be active and responsive with things that matter.”)

5. Understand that our flaws, ultimately, are choices, not lifelong curses or genetic defects.

See yourself differently and you will become somebody different.

To discover a flaw in our makeup gives us a chance to get rid of it and add a new line of beauty to our lives. Sunday