Do We Have a Tragic Flaw?

  • By Shawn Sommerkamp
  • 09 Jun, 2017

Do you have a tragic flaw? By ‘tragic flaw’ I mean: Do you possess an inherent shortcoming in your own DNA that causes you to repeatedly stumble in your career?  Are you doomed to a limited professional impact because of some character defect?  A good number of Christian professionals think so, but is it possible to really have a tragic flaw?


The Roots of Our Tragedy

Romans 3:23  "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

The term 'tragic flaw,' also known as 'fatal flaw,' is actually a literary term and was first applied in the mid-300’s B.C. by Aristotle. He wrote Poetics , a collection of theories centered on Greek Tragedy, the dramatic plays of his time.

He observed that each protagonist in these dramas possessed a character trait that lead to his or her own downfall. The playwrights of his time, such as Euripides and Sophocles, used this literary device to add meaning to their stories.  

We know Shakespeare became famous as his plays all possessed this idea of a tragic flaw: Hamlet’s was indecisiveness, Othello’s was jealousy, Macbeth’s was obsessive ambition, King Lear’s was self-delusion and so-on.  

The idea of the tragic flaw in literature destined the main character, who often began in a high position in life, to fall to a state of despair, ending in death, because of a serious character defect. The actual Greek word Aristotle used for tragic flaw is hamartia . Does this word sound familiar?  

Sin is the Tragic Flaw

Although defined as error or poor judgment in literature, we Christians know this word as “sin” in the New Testament.   Hamartia  (sin) appears no less than 362 times from Matthew to Revelation. To call it poor judgment is an understatement. This 'error' resulted in the fall of mankind, introducing separation from God and ultimately death as its consequence.  

So the answer to the original question, "Do you have a tragic flaw?," is yes.  

Romans 6:23  "For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I say 'yes' because we once had a relationship with the Almighty God and then lost the connection. We are now doomed to die a mortal death. The history of mankind, if written out as a play, is clearly a tragedy.  

The question we are addressing today is whether we have an inescapable and persistent character defect within, resulting in a cycle of poor career outcomes. And the answer is a resounding No!

Of the many gifts we have been given by God, one gift that stands out as a career-reset button is the gift of repentance.  (There’s a word we don’t often cite when discussing our professional life.)  

Repentance is Our Reset Button

Repentance is the attitude of wiliness to change, to be different, to shift our direction 180 degrees.

We all make professional mistakes, whether it be raising our voice to the wrong person, choosing to slack off at the wrong time, performing poorly, missing meetings, forgetting that critical phone call or disappointing the most important client. The list is endless.  

We can have peace knowing God is in control. As we choose to follow His plan of righteousness, we walk with absolute integrity, and we repent when we make a mistake. We say we are sorry, and we accept the consequences. We do so willingly, knowing we are servants of the Most High.  

Whatever your career station today, it can change for tomorrow.  Having an attitude of humility allows us to change our trajectory no matter how far off course we are thrown.  God has provided those He loves with a way forward.  That means the only tragedy is forgetting to call upon our Lord.  

Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience.  He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to use their career to glorify God and support local church growth.

Explore Other Posts

By Shawn Sommerkamp 10 Jan, 2018
Special Note: The Adobe Forms functions will not work if you try to fill this out from a browser. Please first save it to a file location, close the browser, then reopen from the file location. If you do not have Adobe Reader, and your system forces you to use a browser for viewing, all features may not work properly in this form. Thanks.
By Shawn Sommerkamp 10 Jan, 2018

Shawn Sommerkamp, speaking to the Charleston Church of Christ at the New Year's Eve church service Dec 31, 2017.

By Shawn Sommerkamp 10 Jan, 2018

Targeted goal-setting is powerful and effective. It helps us keep clarity of outcome. Breaking big desires down into smaller, achievable goals makes success achievable. The biggest challenges are overcome as we make a series of small goals that, collectively, lead to big outcomes. 

And yet, just setting a bunch of goals can often be discouraging when we don’t reach them. Ever wonder why we often fall short? It’s because the goals weren’t smart! I’m not talking about whether the goals are stupid or intelligent either. I’m talking about a simple way of thinking about an activity designed to help us achieve results. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. and it stands for the following:

By David Mitchell 09 Jan, 2018

It’s early January. 

The Holidays are over. 

It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year. 

A more appropriate lyric, now that it is time to make resolutions & get back to work, could be one of the following… 

‘It’s The Most: 

  - Stressful
  - Sad
  - Crazy busy
  - Cash poor
  - Lonely
  - Weight Gaining
  - Overrated

 …Time Of The Year.’`

It’s not that you are ‘Bah Humbug’…

You want to enjoy it, but it can feel more like “I just want to get through it.”

Although your MIND knows that God’s will for you (according to 1 Th 5:16-18) is to:

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances…”  

...your HEART can lag behind & this simple command can seem overwhelming.

Sometimes you can put your finger on what’s dragging you down & other times it’s more elusive ~ not really sure what’s keeping things from being ‘Wonderful’.

By Shawn Sommerkamp 20 Nov, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:18   Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

Give thanks, no matter what is happening in your life.  This is easy…right? 

A national polling firm named Penn, Schoen, & Berland conducted a survey, mid-2012, evaluating American attitude toward thankfulness. They conducted more than 2,000 interviews across the US general population. I’m only going to share a few pieces of the overall report:    

  • 90% of people said they would describe themselves as people who are generally grateful for their family and friends
  • However, only 52% of women and 44% of men express any thankfulness regularly
  • 60% say when they do express thankfulness, they do it to make themselves feel good

Where is the one place people are least likely to express gratitude? WORK 

  • 74% of the 2000 respondents never or rarely show gratitude at work (for anything)
  • 70% want their boss to be thankful for them (even though they don’t express thanks)
  • 81% would work harder if they were thanked by their boss or company 

Based on this survey, that hardest circumstance to give thanks exists in and around the workplace. Isn’t that amazing? The place we spend the most waking hours (about 2,200 hours per year, about 110,000 hours in working lifespan) we aren’t thankful for.  Wow! 

The truth is our career is not just a way to make a living - it’s a way to transform the world. It’s the place God placed us so that we could make the biggest difference in our service to him.

By Dave Mitchell 17 Nov, 2017

Do you remember when these 3D-Hidden Object posters came out? They were quite the RAVE…

They were not what they appeared to be at first glance… If you wanted to understand what the poster was really about, you had to stop what you were doing, get real close to it – focus on it, and back away very slowly… and then – like magic – 3D images would appear / seemingly emerge right off of the paper (3D effect). The embedded 3D images were disguised and hidden to the untrained/unfocused eyes.

Some people (me included sometimes) would get frustrated if we could not see the 3D images fast enough – some were easier than others… and missed the ‘magic’ of the poster.

More Posts
Share by: