I act as a mentor to a high school student as part of the Take Stock in Children program. A few weeks ago my mentee and I were talking about her grades and it came up that she was doing poorly in one of her AP programs. After some more discussion it became clear that her poor performance was due to lack of preparation and care on her part. More importantly, she came to this realization and accepted that she had earned her poor grade. It was at this point that I encouraged her to talk to her teacher and start with an apology. It took a little convincing on my part that this was the right way to go, but as a firm believer in taking responsibility for your actions, I wasn’t letting up so easy. At our most recent meeting I asked if she had a chance to talk to her teacher. Her face broke into a smile and she told me how nervous she had been to approach him, but how glad she was that she did. Her teacher was so surprised and elated about her apology for her poor performance, acceptance of her responsibility in the performance and her request for help in doing better. And, I’d like to think my mentee learned a valuable lesson in taking responsibility for your own actions.
Sure, it is easier to blame someone or something else for our mistakes. Taking responsibility and saying I’m sorry is sometimes really hard. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate to disappoint people. But, I can also tell you that I’m not ashamed to say I’m sorry, admit that I dropped the ball and immediately do whatever I can to fix the issue to my best ability. Rational people understand that mistakes happen (because we all make them), and in my experience are always so surprised when you take responsibility and just happy to have the problem fixed and not have to deal with excuses.
So, next time you’re tempted to find an excuse — take a step back, figure out what went wrong, what you can do better next time, and most importantly, apologize!
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill