January is turning out to be quite the month for people in a position of power or authority (or just plain rich) to be causing outrage about their behaviour.
Boris is making headline news daily, for all the wrong reasons and just managing to edge out Prince Andrew, now stripped of royal titles, with that civil case looming.
Novak Djokovic is dividing opinion as to whether he broke Covid rules, and even influencer Molly-Mae Hague gets a hammering on social media for speaking out about how anyone can be a success.
And, as perception is everything, we tend to decide the ‘truth’ for ourselves and cast our judgement.
Now, we don’t necessarily live our lives in the glare of publicity, but we do make mistakes, don’t we? We get stuff wrong, say the wrong thing or do something stupid - because we’re human. And we’d like to think we care enough to do something about it, but what can we do?
Well, here are a few ideas:
When you know you’ve screwed up, just admit it!
You can hope that no one noticed your error and that it will go away, but the truth has a habit of finding its way back. Either someone, somewhere will spill the beans on you, or it will come from you. Your conscience will eat away at you, or you’ll slip up.
Of course, you might want to take the risk and keep it under wraps even from your nearest and dearest but if the truth does get out, the consequences could then be huge.
And the higher your profile or position, the harder the fall is likely to be.
If your job, family, friends, and reputation matter to you, it’s always better to be honest and ‘fess up when you’ve messed up.
We all make mistakes, don’t allow yours to magnify by hiding it.
If you owe an apology, give it sincerely - and quickly.
It’s surprising how difficult it is - especially for people in the spotlight - to apologise. It hurts their ego and there’s a chance that saying those words (‘I’m sorry’) will cost them a heap of money as well as the cost of losing some of their ‘fans’. Money aside though, some people just don’t like the thought of sounding weak or vulnerable.
In fact, in many cases, the opposite happens. Making an apology can win you support, make you look more human, more caring and like the kind of person we would want to follow or have in our lives.
But if you are going to say you’re sorry, say it like you mean it (we can see through empty words, can’t we?) and do it quickly.
Ignore what people say about you. Unless it’s true.
I’m all for being yourself and living life the way you want to live it - I even advise people to do this more when I’m coaching them.
What can often get overlooked though, is self-awareness. So many people haven’t a clue how they are coming across. Now, this can range from being rude or aggressive when talking to people, to behaving badly, or as in some recent high-profile cases, doing exactly what they want - knowingly or unknowingly breaking rules.
Some people who are in a position of privilege believe they can get away with anything (and yes, often they do).
But with this lack of self-awareness, there’s every chance you’ll be naffing people off, often without knowing - until it’s too late and that can be dangerous.
Know your strengths and be aware of how you are coming across. If you’re more considerate, you’ll keep - and win - more friends.
In our post pandemic world, we all need to be more self-aware, and a little kinder.
Learn your lesson.
Kids are taught to learn by their mistakes and are reprimanded if they don’t. So, as adults, we should know better, shouldn’t we?
Failure to do that and behave differently means that we carry on making the same old mistakes often for the rest of our lives.
Especially if we think we can get away with it. Changing behaviour takes persistence and courage.
It’s OK to get it wrong, it’s not OK if you keep doing it at the expense of others.
We’re never too old to keep learning and growing.
How well you recover from mistakes is your decision.
When we put our foot in it, or speak without thinking first, it’s largely down to us to decide what we do next. We can face up to any hurt we’ve caused and consider one of the examples above - or we can do nothing and carry on as we were.
The same is true for Boris Johnson, Prince Andrew, Novak Djokovic and even influencer Molly- Mae Hague. For them, there is a great deal at stake - including, reputation.
Making amends, building bridges, and learning lessons is the only way forward because there is no alternative - there’s nowhere to hide in the spotlight.
Anyone can make mistakes or break the rules, but if you believe you’re above repairing the damage, it could be the biggest mistake you’ll ever make.
Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at www.amanawalker.com
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