“You must never go there Simba”

​“And this will all be mine?”


“Everything the light touches… What about that shadowy place?”

“That’s beyond our borders. You must never go there Simba.”

The Lion King would have been very different had Mufasa known the difference between justifying and understanding.

Mufasa didn’t help Simba understand why he should never go there. He thought his authority was enough of a justification. It wasn’t. Authority never is.

In my own life, I find myself justifying my decisions to others. Justifying comes from the word “justice.” When you seek justice, you appeal to a judge and a jury. You have to make a case, prove a point and persuade them of the righteousness of your conduct.

But your life is not a court of law. And you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. You want to do something? You don’t have to persuade anyone else before you can do it. You don’t want to do something? Cool. You don’t need to give them a reason why.

But there’s something you can do. You can help them to understand the decision. The difference is subtle, but significant.

Justifying is about pleading your case, as if the audience has a hand in the final decision and can overturn it. Helping someone to understand the decision means the decision is made. It’s done. You’re trying to help them see it from your point of view. And if they don’t, or won’t? It doesn’t matter because the decision is made.

It’s about control. When you attempt to justify, you give up some of your control. But when you help someone understand your decision, you retain power over your life. 

Whatever decisions you make in the future, do not justify them to anyone. You don’t have to. 

But if the person matters to you, help them to understand it.