September 18, 2012
When thinking about apology, I've always appreciated the notion that you can't dig up. No matter how hard you try, you just keep digging that hole deeper and deeper. Sometimes, you need to put down your shovel, eat a little crow and offer an apology.
"An apology?" said comedian Steven Martin. "Bah! Disgusting! Cowardly! Beneath the dignity of any gentleman, however wrong he might be." An absurdist, and sadly true, statement--especially in light of our equally absurd politics. When looked at through the lens of the presidential campaign, the word "apology" (much like "compromise" before it) has become a dirty word:
What gives, guys? Demanding apologies, accusing others of apologizing--Mr. Romney even wrote a book called No Apology. I for one think a well delivered, and sincere, apology can be a sign of strength.
All leaders need to learn that an apology is an important tool. And I hesitate to call it a "tool" as apologies should be genuine--not transactional. They should emanate from a place of sincere reflection and acknowledgement that one can do better. In the eyes of those being lead, an apology shows that a leader is self-aware, capable of self-deprecation and open to change. It demonstrates an understanding of what makes us human--that nobody is right all the time.Nobody is perfect and our political process, which forces us to pretend otherwise, does a disservice to the humanity of our leaders. Nobody in this country is infallible--least of all the two men who seek to run the place. Apology is a necessary companion to success as very few succeed without taking risks. Risks beget mistakes, mistakes beget failure and failure begets an apology. Apology then is a sign of strength and conviction--not weakness.
When you realize you've made a mistake, here are a few things to keep in mind as you contemplate how to apologize:
When has apologizing helped move you forward?
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September 18, 2012