One way we can increase our influence today is to learn to Apologize First… and Mean It!

Several years ago I was coaching a baseball team and in my efforts to encourage, inspire and challenge them to improve I had them running drills had the little athletes running to the other side of the field, quite close to another team.  The coach of this “rival” team came charging over to my squad and began to berate both me and my team for interfering with their practice.  My kids hadn’t actually interfered and this outburst was entirely unwarranted.  As the petulant coach stormed off and I began to plot my verbal revenge a wise older man named Peter sauntered over and said something I will never forget.  He said “You know Jason… sometimes you should apologize first, even when there isn’t much to apologize for.” That was not what I wanted to hear.

I happened to highly respect Peter and ultimately, after some inner turmoil, headed over to the angry coach and tried my very best to offer a sincere apology for allowing my team to run towards the end of the field on which they were practicing. The coach proceeded to lecture me on why I was in the wrong.  It took everything inside of me not to lash back.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always get this right… more often than not I find myself failing to apologize first.  An interesting thing happened as the rest of the summer unfolded.  The coach who had berated me, began to warmup to me and eventual ask me for input and advice. My influence began to grow as a result of being willing to apologize first and mean it.  Time an time again I have seen this principal play out in life.

Benefits of Apologizing First:

  • It is Free: An apology is free and costs nothing more than your pride… and yet the pay off is astronomical.
  • It Builds Trust: Trust is often predicated on genuine apology and the humility involved.
  • It Makes You Look Good: If you are willing to apologize to me first and mean it, my impression of you goes through the roof!
  • It Ends the Situation: Someone once said, “An apology is a good way to have the last word.” Further criticism sounds silly.

As I have been writing this, one of my students came in to my office and gave me a letter of apology for something done earlier in the day.  The letter was sincere and the tone contrite. The letter ended with this sentence; “I plan to do whatever I can to earn your trust back.”  You know what… she already has!

So, today… is there anyone you need to apologize to so that you can get One Grip Higher?

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