More people should apologize, and more people should accept apologies when sincerely made.
Mistakes, in life, are inevitable. We try our best to avoid them, but they happen. Even when our intentions are noble, our thoughts measured and our actions carefully considered They are a part of life, and a very valuable learning experience if we reflect on them. The fallout from a mistake can be painful, but the long-term benefits can far outweigh the negatives. It’s really about the mindset you adopt when viewing the mistake. A negative mindset will blow a mistake out of proportion and could lead to self-doubt, self-loathing, loss of motivation and the fear to take risks in the future. With a positive mindset, you look for lessons to be learned, and are more likely to take risks again in the future, armed with the knowledge gained from the previous experience.
Sometimes, however, our mistakes affect other people. This is what I would like to discuss today. When things go wrong and it’s largely us who are affected, we can perform a post-mortem, determine what we can learn from the experience and then do our best to bounce back. When other people are involved, that’s a different matter.
Very rarely do we set out intentionally to hurt or upset another person. Especially if we value the relationship we have with them. But it happens. We set out upon a course of action, only to completely misjudge what would happen or how it would affect other people. So, while we acted with the best of intentions, we ended up with the most undesirable of outcomes. In this instance,the first step should be to accept responsibility for what has gone wrong, provided that it was your fault. Next there should be a genuine heart felt apology and, if possible, an explanation of what you had set out to do. It is important to communicate to the other person what you were trying to achieve so that they can understand your reasons and intentions. Share what you have learned from experience with them too, if you get the opportunity.
This is no time for bravado, ego or empty words. Be humble, and take responsibility for what you did and didn’t do. Apologies must be followed by action to rectify or improve the situation. Without action, all that you are offering are mere words and platitudes. Prove how sincere you are, and don’t just say it. Tell the other person how sorry you are (and make sure that you mean it!!) but then show what you are doing to either fix the problem or to ensure that it never happens again.
Why talk about this subject on a blog about fulfilling the potential we hold within ourselves? Simple answer? Because of what it teaches us.
Apologising is not a sign of weakness, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person. When we own up to our mistakes and apologise either to ourselves or to others, we take responsibility for them and this is a mark of maturity, honesty and integrity. These are traits which are respected by others, and can actually strengthen relationships, both personal and professional, as well as reputations. In business, people want to know what type of person they are dealing with, so being known for honesty, integrity and trustworthiness is never going to be a bad thing.
Most of all, though, we will never reach our potential or get anywhere near it until we take responsibility for our lives. I have read countless quotes about how the circumstances in which we find ourselves today are a result of decisions we have made and actions which we have taken in the past. So very true. If you are not where you hoped to be in life, you need to look at where you went off-track. That’s not to say that you should just beat yourself up and give up hope, though.
Take responsibility for where your life choices have led you to so far, and learn as much as you can from this reflection. Once you have learned all that you can, it’s time to start looking forward. Time, now, to take responsibility for your future, and make sure that the decisions you make and actions you take today will be steering your forward towards the life you want.
George Bernard Shaw