Making A Comeback In A Go Away World
April 21, 2015
Owner/Administrator Of Visiting Angels
Topicsblame, comeback, Forgiveness, grace, know it, own it, Pride, Responsibility, transparency
It's out there - the headlines are printed, the paper is printed and the world is reading the news over morning coffee. Information once hidden is now fairly public. Someone has messed up and the consequences are splashed across the information landscape.
The conversation might be as broad as the news media, or as narrow as the office gossip around the snack machine. So how do you react as a leader when this happens? OMG! How do you react as a leader when this happens and it's you that messed up? I've been there and done that.
Before you start scanning this article for juicy details, this isn't a true confessions post. I'm just a normal guy who has messed up before, sharing with some fellow travelers about his journey back from the land of stupid choices. Whether you're traveling the same road, or helping someone else navigate this trip, hopefully these suggestions can help.
Own It - Accept Responsibility
No one, I repeat no one, likes to hear blame and excuses. First and foremost, it's critical for you to own your mistakes. No whining, no justification, no excuses, no rationalizing is beneficial, so don't do it. You messed up. You chose and acted poorly.
Jim Rohn says "You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself." Admit it, It's a cleansing that that takes place when you're brave enough to say, "I was wrong." Be that kind of brave. It's the best place to start changing yourself.
Fix It - Make Amends
It's been said that you can't un-ring a bell and it's true. What's said is said and what's done is done. But just feeling badly for the consequences of your failures isn't the end of the process, it's the beginning. The next step needs to be working towards reconciling your bad debt, and trying to fix what you broke.
In AA, principle #9 acknowledges this crucial part of the process of making amends. It states, "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."
If there is a way to make amends, and it's not going to cause greater damage, then the challenge is simple. Grace received is the natural result of grace given by broken people to broken people. Just do it. Swallow your pride and do it.
Take It - The High Road Is the Best Road
The road to restoration isn't a paved road. It's full of potential potholes. It's lonely, isolated at times, and you may even wonder if you're on the right road. One road sign to keep you on course is to ask yourself this key question: "Am I taking the high road, doing the honorable thing"?
The high roa" was a term used to describe the road that was built for and dedicated exclusively to nobility. Built higher than the other roads, it gave the leaders a better perspective on the landscape. We need to step above the circumstances to see what is truly critical for restoration to take place.
Pettiness, playing the blame game and attacking others is not healthy. It's certainly not taking the high road. Be better than that. Take the high road.
Expect It - Make a Plan for Next Time
Regardless of what your challenge or failure may have been, it's likely that the opportunity for a similar situation will present itself again in your life. Set some controls in your life to protect yourself from making the same choices over and over. Find someone you trust to ask you hard questions from time to time.
Learn the value of transparency. Giving another person an open window to your weakness may be the strongest thing you've ever done. Ask yourself, "What's my plan for next time this comes up?" If you don't have a plan, then you're vulnerable.
Know It - You're Human
Many people fail to move past their mistakes and forward with hope. It's not because their boss won't forgive, or their coworkers won't forget. It's because they refuse to move beyond their own failure. Call it a self-inflicted punishment or out of control regret. It's futile and you'll never move past it until you accept the fact that you are human. People make mistakes. So move on already.
Thoreau said, "One cannot too soon forget his errors and misdemeanors; for to dwell upon them is to add to the offense." Own your mistakes. Fix them where you can. Take the high road every time you can. Expect the same challenge again, so make a plan and be ready.
And dude, give yourself a break. A comeback is possible in this go away world. Today is your day. I'll see you on the road back.
Hi, Page – enjoyed this post immensely, along with feeling a little squirmy as your points hit way too close to home.
Your very first point about accepting responsibility is especially interesting, since we see so many examples of how not to do it in the public arena. Not quite sure why it is so difficult for so many to simply say “I was wrong”, but the excuses and explanations tend to come easily for some. When a particular excuse is successful, we can almost be certain that we will hear variations on that excuse in the future.
One thing that particularly gets my attention is when someone claims to have been misunderstood and attempts to “rephrase” the words that came out their mouth:).
I have no particular comeback story to share, although I HAVE spent plenty of time recovering from various slips, trips, and falls in my career. I would note that as long as our society accepts non-apologies, vague statements, “extenuating” circumstances, and doublespeak, instead of demanding clear and honest language in general, we will continue to see examples of people in leadership not taking a leader role and accepting responsibility clearly and concisely.
Thanks for yet another thought-provoking post:)
I love to eat! I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “eating crow”, meaning, “I had to admit I was wrong”…
As a foodie, I’ve learned one thing in leadership over the years… when it’s time to “eat crow”, it ALWAYS tastes better if you feed it to yourself! Admitting I was wrong develops respect with others, and there is an inner healing that takes place for me too.
Press on my friend! Have a blessed week!
Thank you for your thought-provoking post, Page. I cannot think of any favorite comeback story but I do remember as a child, my parents taught me to accept responsibility for my mistakes, admit it and try to make amends. Worked like a dream when I missed curfews or forgot to do something I was supposed to.
In my adult years, I’ve found that it is much easier to apologize and make up for a goof up where I know I am at fault and to do it with sincerity. It takes a load off my shoulders and allows me to do the right thing without guilt.
In business, this is an invaluable quality and can affect goodwill. The company that was managing my Mom’s art website for the last 10 years had informed us that after July this year they were changing their business model and closing down accounts. I thought I had time to look into the hosting and maintenance as well as updating it when a few weeks back, one of their technicians accidentally deleted the website. The owner not only took full responsibility but offered to transfer the website free of cost to my hosting and they spent quite a few days making sure that everything worked without a word. Needless to say, they know that if they ever go back to accepting outside clients, my Mom’s account will be given to them along with referrrals.
Integrity and the ability to accept responsibility always ensure successful comebacks.
Great story about the website company! It’s encouraging to see companies that step up and not only admit a mistake, but go beyond and above the call of duty to make it right!
Sounds like our parents were reading from the same “parenting manual” as well! You highlighted a critical point… parenting kids well, and teaching them the value of admitting it when they make a mistake, can be one of the greatest leadership legacies we can leave in our wake!
Have a fantastic weekend!