Everyone makes mistakes. Will Smith reminded us of that on Sunday night. And if you are a learning, growing, improving human your mistakes make you better prepared for the next challenge life throws your way. And life is going to throw more challenges your way. It’s what life does.
Early in my career, I made a mistake kinda like Will Smith’s. Granted, there were no Oscars involved. It was not on national television. I wasn’t mad at Chris Rock for saying that my wife looked like one of the fittest, most beautiful Hollywood actresses of all time. (You go Demi!) And I didn’t actually touch anyone.
But I did overreact to a coworker who had done something wrong.
In the moments that followed my overreaction, my boss gave me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my career. He simply and calmly told me:
‘When you are right, don’t respond in a way that makes you have to apologize.‘
It was great advice. It perfectly reframed my mistake for me. I could see that I was in the right, until I wasn’t. Yes, I had been wronged. But I became wronger. The court of public opinion would have acquitted me, until my behavior was such that they could no longer support me. #IWishIKnewHowToAcquitYou…
For two decades now that piece of advice has been written into my decision-making code. When I am processing how to respond to aggravations, slights, irritations, and insults I frequently access that code. And it always helps me make better decisions. As a result, I don’t give my power of rightness back to those who have wronged me.
When you are right, don’t respond in a way that makes you have to apologize.
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+For a full collection of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.