Yesterday I watched in disbelief as the jury in Florida found this young woman, whose name I’m not mentioning in the post though I’m sure it’ll come up somewhere eventually, not guilty in the death of her daughter. In a case I thought I knew really well, I was stunned by what I heard, then later I got disgusted, and finally I got mad; that took a few hours. Then once I hit mad I was able to get rid of almost every bit of those emotions except the shock part and moved on with my night.

I knew she was guilty. For almost 3 years I’ve felt she was guilty. The pattern of behavior told me she was guilty. The different things that seemed to crop up as evidence told me she was guilty. I thought this was a slam dunk; no way the prosecution was going to lose this one.

But there’s one thing I didn’t do. I didn’t watch the trial. I didn’t watch any of it except for the prosecution’s closing argument on Monday; I didn’t even watch the defense’s closing argument on Sunday. Instead, I kept up with the trial by reading the news stories, mainly the news stories from CNN, who had a couple of correspondents take this thing on personally over the course of years.

I knew the verdict was going to come fast, so I was one of the few people who wasn’t surprised when after maybe 8 hours total the news came that the jury had reached its verdict. I staked my spot out in my living room, sitting in the big comfortable chair, waiting to hear what I just knew I was going to hear… it didn’t happen.

As I thought about it once I wasn’t mad anymore I wondered what happened, what went wrong. What I realized is that I really didn’t know what happened in court. I was so sure that I knew everything there was to know that I didn’t bother. I read some things in daily reports that disgusted me that the defense lawyers did. I read how the defendant was reacting, or not reacting, to certain things that were being said during the trial; sounded guilty to me.

But I didn’t do what I would have done as a manager or leader. I didn’t check things out for myself. As a director, I never listened to what someone else told me about another person. I always checked things out for myself, looked at the numbers, watched the employee, then came to my own decision. By doing that I was rarely caught off guard; I almost always knew what to expect when it came to employee performance.

Another lesson learned. I’m still in shock based on what I thought I knew, but I now also know a part of it is my own fault. I hope it’s a lesson I remember because it’s going to happen again, as it’s happened in the past.

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