When I was little I did something wrong to upset my mom. I don’t know what it was…maybe something silly like touch her newly washed windows. I’m guessing it was something even a little naughtier, based on how I remember her response. I distinctly recall walking up to her in the kitchen as she was standing at the stove cooking dinner. I took in a deep breath and told her I was sorry. She basically rebuffed my apology. Perhaps it was because of that experience or maybe it was just a part of my natural maturation process, but apologies were difficult for me growing up.
It wasn’t until I started working for my brother during college, I realized the importance of acknowledging your mistakes. As a business owner and as a manager you need your team to admit their errors. It is then and only then, you can feel assured that progress is being made and the mistake probably won’t happen again.
I will be the first to admit I really hate making mistakes. Mentally, I will quickly try to find all the ways in which whatever happened was not my fault. At each mental checkpoint in which I can’t find my accountability escape, my stomach knots up a little tighter. Eventually the sinking feeling settles in and I succumb.
Dammit. I did this. I must make it better.
Over the years, I have become better. What a relief it was for my skeleton in the closet to expose itself and for everyone to find out I am human.
I’ve learned to own my mistakes. Apologize. And then analyze.
What could I have done differently?
I believe it is in those moments, we as human beings grow and become better. In every situation there is something we could have done differently.
My husband is the BEST at saying he’s sorry. Perhaps I am bias, but I believe he is good at everything he puts his mind to. He likes to be perfect or as close to perfect as possible. For someone who strives for perfection, he says he’s sorry and means it better than anyone I know. He says he’s sorry when he’s at fault, but he also says he’s sorry when he wants to acknowledge someone’s unfortunate situation.
Today my son and I shared a lesson in acknowledging feelings and apologizing.
My son’s phone stopped working, and I told him to go to Verizon to have it checked out. When he asked if they would need authorization from a parent I told him to have them call me. If absolutely necessary I could drive down and meet him there. So…..45 minutes later after I had fought traffic to treat myself to a car wash I received a phone call from Austin at the Verizon store. He told me they needed me to come to the store. Authorization over the phone was not acceptable. He even double checked as I waited on the other end of the line. Disappointed, I got out of line for my car wash and drove down to Verizon. As I walked up to him and the clerk standing in the store, the clerk told us we could just handle it online. Grrrrrr…..
This was 98% NOT my son’s fault. I didn’t say 100%, because we all own part of the blame in any situation. What a huge pain in the neck and frustrating experience. I was a little hot under the collar driving down there. Walking out of the store, my flame was lit.
Unfortunately for Austin, instead of acknowledging my frustration or saying he was sorry for the hassle he poured gas on the flame. He was defensive. At one point he even turned it around on me to say that perhaps I should have went there with him in the first place.
After a bit of fuming and a few minutes apart he walked into my room and apologized. Not for any mistake of his, but because it happened. Flame extinguished.
Austin and I had a good discussion about acknowledging people’s feelings, being accountable, recognizing when we can do things differently and how meaningful it is to say we are sorry.
I’m convinced my son is going to make someone very happy one day…if I continue to do my job right.
Being human and making mistakes endears us to one another. It’s okay to say you’re wrong once in a while. It’s okay to say you could have been better. It’s okay to say you made a mistake. It’s okay to say you’re sorry.
The world will find out you aren’t perfect and love you anyway.