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.

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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… 

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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
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  • 74% of the 2000 respondents never or rarely show gratitude at work (for anything)
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  • 81% would work harder if they were thanked by their boss or company 

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