Holding Your Hands Up

20 October, 2015

I remember as a little boy throwing a ruler at a school friend, it hit him and he was upset. He then said ‘I’m going to tell the teacher’. My instant reaction was to say ‘No, I’m going to tell the teacher’ which I did. This is one of my earliest memories: telling the teacher that ‘I’ had thrown a ruler at someone else, that I knew it was wrong, I shouldn’t have done it and wanted to let her know that someone was upset. The teacher’s response was (thankfully) to thank me.

I’m not sure where it came to me from, but from very early on I understood that there was power in admitting you have done wrong. It is a massive sign of strength to own up when you have made a mistake or done something that, when the heat was off, you wish you hadn’t.

Yet this very week I experienced a very intelligent and skilled person who had clearly made a mistake - and despite being given opportunities to admit it and asked outright if they had - still refused to say they had done anything wrong. It is almost like the only thing that mattered to this person is the perception that he is always right. The result is that this person to me has become less trustworthy and I have less faith in him.
The reality is that we are all - me included - fallible. We all screw up and make mistakes, it’s called being human. The mistake itself is not the problem, the problem is when we decide that rather than own up to it, learn from it and move on, we place pride and ego first. Ironically this has the reverse effect – lessening trust, regard and respect.
I only want to do business with real people who hold their hands up of their own accord. People who understand when they are at fault can then learn from this, move on and make better decisions in the future, becoming better people.