mistakes is a human flaw that we all possess; we cannot always have the insight or ability to get it right all of the time. We misjudge, miscalculate, underestimate or over value things. When we do get things wrong, it is the way in which we react that determines our character.
We have all experienced that sinking feeling in our stomachs when the realisation that our actions or words were off the mark washes over us. After that feeling, there is a choice we have to make. Many do not hesitate to own up and face the consequences, but there are just as many who will go to great lengths to cover up what they see as a weakness they are desperate to hide. Of course there are circumstances and situations to factor into our decisions. The threat of consequences can be a huge deterrent to owning up to mistakes, but if you are afraid to admit you are wrong because of your ego, because you think errors show weakness, it’s time to think again.
It takes guts to admit you were wrong and then some to apologise for the mistake. It certainly isn’t weak to take responsibility for a poor or wrong choice or action, it shows strength of character and allows us to look critically at those errors and find ways to ensure they do not reoccur. In the admission of responsibility for the problem we may have caused, we can define what we did wrong and look for ways to avoid continuing down that path.
Admission is one thing, but what of those few words that come after? I’m sorry. They can be uttered begrudgingly, meaninglessly or sincerely. If an apology is genuine, it can go a long way to fixing the problem caused. In personal relationships is important for each person to feel valued enough firstly that the other has owned their mistake, then secondly that they care enough about the effect it has had. When you can be honest enough to take responsibility and you are willing to make the effort to change things, repairs can be made and trust built. Similarly, in other types of relationships, high functioning relations rely heavily on respecting and trusting each other being secure that mistakes can be overcome.
However, there are a large number of people who refuse to acknowledge to themselves and others that they are ever wrong. If you are not acknowledging it even to yourself, you seemingly have an extremely high opinion of your capabilities, and perhaps you work hard to ensure you do get things right, but to believe you are never wrong is leaning towards delusion. In fact, it is likely that you have low self-esteem if your ego cannot handle the realisation that you are wrong about something.
Of course it may be a difficult task for those in positions of power to admit mistakes because they believe people will lose respect for them or question their intelligence, competence and ability to lead. In an effort to avoid this, they can often assign blame elsewhere. For these people, acknowledging a mistake or blunder feels like a defeat, making them feel vulnerable, weak and exposed. It may also seem to signify inadequacy. Ironically, if people see others taking responsibility for their mistakes, they are more likely to be perceived as honest, strong, reliable and intelligent. It shows a confidence that they are secure in themselves to be able to cope with flaws.
Strong character and leadership are not defined by being infallible. Our growth as people is actuality enhanced by our acceptance of our imperfections and efforts to overcome our fears and insecurities. True strength of character is revealed when a person recognises and acknowledges failures, yet has the resolve and insight to keep moving forward.
These are the lessons that we should be offering our children. Showing them firstly that mistakes are an inevitable part of our existence and that taking responsibility for them, then striving to avoid similar future occurrences and taking the learning opportunity from situations to better understand ourselves, makes us adaptable and capable of progress. We need to help them to understand that true power lies in our ability to take ownership of our imperfections, responsibility for mistakes and being humble about our capabilities.