The Butterfly Effect

“It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.” - Chaos Theory

Today was a pretty bad day for me overall, just because of one action. You all know what I did and why people would have acted that way towards me. After rereading my post a day after I wrote it, I did notice it sounded awfully rude, but that’s a problem on my part. I deserved that whole bitterness towards me, but I am not changing my stance, but that is a whole another subject. What made my day go bad was the 5 minute discussion I had with my mentor, apparently someone emailed my mentor/teacher what I have posted on this site. Now that really got to me, first of all, I am pretty sure that the person that wrote the email was pretty pissed by my behaviour, and second of all, my mentor was so disappointed that he was almost speechless. That was the heartbreaking part, if anyone knows my mentor, he is one great person, even me messing around and being clumsy did not even come close to this. I really feel that I have severed my trust with my mentor, and this community, that also affected the rest of my day, probably my mentor’s too and the guy that wrote the email and the wonderful ladies that I insulted yesterday. I really think I just lost all my mentor’s respect for me, today was a really dark day for me. Im here typing after a 12 hour day, I don’t even feel sorry right now, I just feel the guilt. Honestly after that talk with my mentor, my motivation for robotics gone pretty much down the drain, I don’t even know what to think anymore. My mentor said to not post anything anymore since I will just dig a bigger hole, but I feel this is needed. I will not be posting anymore for quite a while, but feel free to PM me, I don’t care if it is rude, scolding, hate or anything, I will read it and respond accordingly.

P.S. Please keep this personal, don’t go emailing my mentor again, I really don’t think I can build up that relationship again, no matter how fabulous job I do in programming or anything. Small things really add up, if my teacher had a bad day, his students might also had a slightly bad day, and that carries on to their families and same goes for everyone else I insulted or offended. It hit me extra hard, because before 2nd period, I got an “A” on a test in the class that I never gotten an “A” before and I PR’ed on my bench today before school.

Also please do not judge my team by my behaviour, I am an individual, one individual’s actions do not reflect the group as a whole, only the individual.

David -
Reread this post that you have made and think about it. You make the most interesting observations and then you contradict them. Stay with me now, don’t shut down - watch -

A quote from your post:
“After rereading my post a day after I wrote it, I did notice it sounded awfully rude, but that’s a problem on my part.” You follow that up in the very next sentence saying: “…but I am not changing my stance, but that is a whole another subject.”

You talk a lot about programming in CD. And you talk about weight lifting and being a football player. What all of that shows is that you have a variety of interests. There are people in this fora who can relate to your interests, not ridicule them, ignore them, or try to make you defensive about them. But your often careless remarks are off putting.

You have written about the disappointment of your mentor. It probably feels awful. But again, you went against your mentor’s request or suggestion and posted. And here’s the contradiction: “Please keep this personal, don’t go emailing my mentor again, I really don’t think I can build up that relationship again, no matter how fabulous job I do in programming or anything.” David, this is a public forum. Nothing said here is private or can be kept private. When you are thinking about what has transpired over the last couple of days, think about that. Really give it some thought, because it is key to helping you understand and see a bigger picture.

Here’s the bigger picture: community. Let’s break that down a little bit. You enjoy programming and you want to learn about programming and you are curious about programming. By being on a robotics team, that makes you a member of a team. Team. Do you see any “I” there? Teams often develop into a community working towards common goals, building the team that builds the robot. Do you see any “I” there? Teams work together in regions, often building a community that builds the regions that help the teams build the robots. Do you see any “I” there? You are becoming a part of the Chief Delphi community. It is a very large community with a membership that spans the globe that works toward the common goals of helping build a stronger FIRST community. Do you see any “I” there? By sticking with this and making a decision to look at what is working for you and what is not working for you, you have the opportunity to grow and to develop into a team member of the team that you value, and to earn the respect of your mentor and teammates. You also have the opportunity to earn the respect of the members of the Chief Delphi community. There are a lot of people in your corner. You pushed it yesterday, making sure you were throwing the “I” into the discussion and you pushed it too far. Learn from it. Spend some time thinking about how you can impact your team, your mentor, your self-esteem, and the CD community and whether you want it to be in a positive useful manner or in a self-centered egotistical manner that ticks people off. You can listen as well as you hear. You can listen to the wisdom of others. You can also share as part of the community, leaving the ego at the door as you enter CD. Don’t be so focused on being an individual. Lighten up and spend time learning to be a better team player. That, believe it or not, is how you become a stronger leader and role model.


Actually, I have had team alumni email our current mentors about my comments about another team on facebook, they were disappointed too. But do you honestly feel that this needs to be posted on here on public display, you getting more attention, and you not facing up to your own actions? You’re not furthering your cause and at this point, preaching on (many) deaf ears.

Oh please, man up to what you say, don’t hold others responsible for the consequences. Asking others to not complain to your mentor is unacceptable when many people have asked you to think hard before you post, several times over. You’ve insulted some of the most respected mentors in FRC and FIRST and have yet to use the words “apologize” or “sorry” in that post directed at those who you insulted.


P.S: This might sound harsh, but it is just my opinion.

It sounds like you learned a lot about what you want for your future. I’d mark that as a success story… if you take the lessons to heart and grow from the experience.

Accept that you have burned bridges, and then examine each one. Why did it burn? What was the specific behavior that burned it? How does that behavior generalize to the future? It isn’t a fun process, and you will naturally attempt to blame others. Don’t. This is your introspection, and the only thing that matters is what you can change in yourself.

You can change who you are and who you will be, but you can not change who you were.

Good luck.

PS: This sort of thing has happened before, and will happen again. It seems that every year, someone takes a SwanDive and belly flops hard. The people who continue to defend the jump get pushed away. The people who accept the situation are lent (tentative) hands of support.

What makes a man is not the mistakes, but the actions that follow.

Andy B.

One individual’s actions most certainly do reflect on the groups thy are a part of. Suggesting that they don’t is merely a way for individuals to try and avoid taking full responsibility for their actions.

Everywhere we go and everything we do reflects not only on us as individuals but also on any groups we may be representing at the time. People will always perceive our actions as representative of our generation, our gender and/or our social class. At any given time we may also be representing a host of other groups including schools, religions, hometowns/states or clubs/groups/teams.

We must always be mindful of how our actions will affect others, especially in circumstances where it may be easy to forget such as internet forums.

Everyone makes mistakes, we show our true colors in how we deal with them. We can either reflect, learn from our mistakes and move on, trying to minimize the damage or we can continue to repeat the same mistakes, digging the hole deeper and deeper.

Most people come to Chief Delphi for selfish reasons, usually looking for an answer to a specific question. After that initial experience there are three possible paths:

  1. Disappear until you have another question to ask. This is one way to use CD, as a personal Q&A. You probably won’t run into any conflict, but you also won’t enjoy all the benefits this community has to offer.

  2. Stay on CD with a closed mindset. This type of poster may learn more from CD than Type #1, but they are also much more likely to run into conflict because of increased participation.

  3. Approach CD with an open mind. This community is made up of an incredible group of people, both students and mentors, technical and non-technical. No matter what you bring to the table you can always learn new things here. The key is to be open to all the opportunities for growth that are present here. Avoid being too attached to your thoughts and opinions. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t express them or defend them, merely that you should be open to allowing them to change. Contribute when and where you feel you can dd value to a discussion. If this means you post all the time great, if this means that you don’t post for days or weeks, that’s fine too! By approaching CD with an open mind and by contributing what you can, not what you think you are obligated to, you will be able to get the best of what the community has to offer.

Completely true. We go over this as a team at the beginning of each year, and remind our students before competitions that if they are wearing our shirt, they are representing our team, and they aren’t allowed to not wear our shirt at competitions. We also remind them that any time that our logo is attached to their name, on a shirt, hoodie, or otherwise, they represent our team (in other words, don’t post a picture on Facebook of you doing something illegal while wearing our logo).

Is this teacher the mentor in question? If he was having a bad day, then he may have just acted a bit too quickly, and will regret his actions later. Congratulations on that A and the PR.

I think that we all also know what it’s like to have a wonderful day, and have it be ruined by one action (I had one such day last week. I ended my day in a straight hour of tears that could not be stopped by my best friend, my boyfriend, or a hot shower. Not fun.). While I cannot justify your actions, I do ask that you think again about removing yourself from the community. As Vikesrock said, there are three paths to take. I recommend the third one. If you make a very obvious attempt to maintain a positive attitude and make more positive and less stubborn contributions, ChiefDelphi will eventually grant forgiveness for the effort you are putting in towards bettering yourself and your actions. Nobody will forget, but you will be able to at least patch your reputation. This is a community that builds people as well as knowledge. You might be surprised at the posts that some now-highly-admired users made when they began here as students, or how their CD experiences began.

And if I may also ask, no matter how many people may demand responses along the lines of “I’m sorry,” please do not say it unless you mean it. And if you cannot formulate an appropriate/mature and well-thought-out response (positive or negative), do not respond at all.

In regards to your relationship with your mentor, it might do you well to apologize (as long as you mean it). In person, and with a honest promise for improvement. As long as you follow through with the promise, the mentor would be a fool to think of you in a disappointed manner forevermore.

Kara, Kevin:

I, along with many others I’ve talked to about this, don’t really take the actions of an individual into account when making a judgment about any team. I don’t really see why anyone would. For example, I do not think any less of David’s team based on anything he has posted because that would be prejudice of me to do. I usually assume nothing about a team (good OR bad) until I have met most of their members and mentors. Anything else is just unfair to the team. In other words, give the team the benefit of the doubt. Of course, something like having a team hoodie on and drinking at a regional or competition would be a different type of case.


There is a lot of growing going on here…yours is from a mistake, but we all make mistakes.

I think what has griped a lot of people here is the fact that you are acknowledging a mistake, yet not apologizing really.

Some other really smart people have already posted some great advice here so I’ll leave it with this…

If you said something in a public forum, that was devastating enough to your mentor that you feel he has lost a great deal of respect for you, you really need to rethink that statement. Even if its your opinion (which you are entitled to have), if the way you approached it is enough to cause someone to seek out your mentor, you need to rethink what your doing.

Make sure you are upset for the right reasons. Would you be feeling this way even if your mentor never found out about your comments on here? It may be easy to say ‘yes’ right now, but answering that question truthfully for yourself may go a long way in “growing up”.



I understand and agree with what you are saying. There were two main thoughts behind that part of my post. The first is that many people are not as judicious as you are when forming opinions. The second is that, as you stated, thoughts about a team are formed partially through a collection of thoughts about individuals.

If you are worried about a particular action reflecting poorly on a group you may be associated with, that may be a clue that you need to step back and assess whether it’s something that you really want to be doing.

I know right now it is going to seem like a lot of people are telling you to apologize. Don’t apologize until you feel you mean it. And don’t do it in public. You know the people you offended most and a personal apology is much more meaningful than one that is forced by the community.

Regarding your mentor; As a mentor I can tell you that I have done some pretty stupid things, we all have. We have all opened our mouths and crammed our foots in them multiple times. Sometimes we realize it ourselves but more often than not it takes someone we respect telling us that we are chewing on a filthy shoe. One of the hardest things to do is to take criticism well. The questions you should be asking yourself are; What did I do wrong? Why did I do it? How can I make amends? How can I become a better person as a result of this? My best suggestion on how to react to your mentor is to thank them for making you realize how you were representing yourself and your team.

As for participating on CD, my advice remains the same as always, think before you post. Never post angry. Maybe hang out in chit-chat for a bit. Participate in some Caption Contests. CD isn’t all serious business and most long time posters have some fun from time to time. I’m not saying to stop posting in serious places but merely to not ignore the opportunities for laughter that are available.

My closing advice here, never let a mistake get in the way of personal growth. I’ve screwed up plenty in my life but I’ve come out a much better person for it. Andy Baker said it much more succinctly than I am able to but I do believe that a man should not be judged by his actions but by his reactions.

Akash, the individual is the product of the group that he developed in. If an individual represents themselves in a manner that is not fitting it looks bad on the group that helped him develop. This may not be proper but it is common practice.

I admit, I judge teams based on the actions of their mentors and their students. If a person is an arrogant jerk I don’t want to associate with them and will avoid them if at all possible. (This is a general statement NOT relating to the OP) I know many others do as well.

My point was to actually have David feel less guilty and also let his mentor know that not everyone on here judged anything about team 589. I hope that others on here feel the same way. Part of your mentor’s disappointment may have sprouted from a concern that other teams and mentors might think less of 589 or something along those lines. Please let him know that this is not so and that he should not be worried about the team image or anything like that.


David, don’t worry too much about building up your relationship with your mentor again. It seems that he really cared about what you did, which sounds like he is a pretty caring individual. And by the way it sounds like from your post, the fact that you feel guilty about him being disappointed, the students on your team are very fond of him, meaning he is a great mentor. Great mentors don’t hold grudges, and are usually the bigger people about things. He’ll gain back respect for your programming abilities as long as you work hard as always. I wouldn’t be too worried about that.

Even if people say “oh, we won’t judge your team”, and some / many / all CDers don’t consciously do it, this is absolutely not an attitude you should expect or assume from anyone. You are representing your team at all times, no matter how many disclaimers you put in your signature or how many times you tell people otherwise. David’s mentor has a very good reason to be upset.

People have an idea of how others should act. Everyone forms their own opinion of what others say or do. It’s just natural.

Sometimes that is based on the situation you are in - remember the furor over the “You lie” comment? Saying something at the wrong time or in the wrong place does reflect poorly on the individual.

If you are identified with a group of people, the actions of the individuals in that group reflect the entire group. We are so used to the political disclaimers on broadcasts, “The opinions of the participants do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this station, the management, blah blah blah.” But that’s legalese. What a person says does reflect on the company he keeps. That’s why mom warned you about not hanging around with the “wrong crowd”. That’s why people dressed in uniform - whether that be of a team, a band, a military unit, the clergy - must always reflect the standards of the group to which they belong.

There are times that a leader of a group should be made known about the activities of one of the group. That way the leader can correct the behavior if necessary. A mentor can advise the mentee of what impression is being made by those comments, and why it is important to create the correct impression. If the mentor does nothing, he is not doing his job in being a good mentor. The mentee should not be concerned with losing the respect of the mentor, unless he does not respect the suggestion to change.

Yes, words can have a wide-ranging effect. In the Internship thread we were discussing the effect of words when a potential employer Googles the applicant. If those words indicate a bias or prejudice, or indicate a lack of ambition or work ethic, that candidate’s chances go down very quickly.

As much as I would like to dive into the rabbit hole of individual_vs_team preaching (both are right and emphasizing either too much is a mistake); I will instead point us back at the original post, and the subject of contradictions that Jane raised.

The title of this thread is “The Butterfly Effect”. However, I don’t recall any butterflies in the situation that lead to this discussion. There were purposeful sledgehammers and grenades. Jane’s point about contradictions is an important one. It deserves some serious thought.

Leave bad habits behind. Decide to improve. Choose a path to success.


I forgive you. Now let’s move on.