Have you ever mistakenly forwarded an email from a friend that contained very personal details? My friend and colleague Dale did this past week. Filled with guilt, he languished in his shame over this “stupid” mistake. This triggered the story-telling mechanisms of his brain to make up frightening yarns as to all the negative ways his dear friend was going to act. Stephen King himself couldn’t have written a better tale of horror.
The good news was this only went on for a few minutes as he realized that shaming himself wasn’t solving the problem. Instead, he did the next right thing, cleaning up his relatively minor mess. His heartfelt apology ended up being met with understanding and a warm embrace. This relationship is at least one notch stronger and deeper as a result of his acting in humility instead of reacting out of shame.
Radical Accountability requires expeditious, mutual forgiveness for our shared humanity. We are all going to screw up. As a result, we must apologize quickly and forgive even faster. Given our fallible natures, we should seize every misstep, misspoken word, and innocent blunder as the opportunity it is-a moment to connect at a deeper level with a follow human being. This applies to all relationships, business and personal alike.
Mistakes will kill you, if you let them. They can murder serenity, decapitate self-confidence, and eviscerate self-esteem unless they are used for good. Every problem is an opportunity to practice the art of contrition and the science of absolution.
This gives a whole new meaning to “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Practice expeditious, mutual forgiveness in all of your business and personal relationships. This is always practice, as attempting to do this perfectly only invites more self-recriminations and shame.
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