One of my most vivid memories of my childhood taught me a profound lesson that is still with me today. I was probably five or six years old when I broke something. I'm not sure what it was. I just remembered not wanting to admit that it was me. My mother was mad, and she asked me if I was the one who broke it. I told her "no," and blamed my younger sister. My mother gave her a spanking. I started crying and telling her that I lied and that it was my fault. I hated myself for being so afraid of getting in trouble that I caused my sister pain. My mother was crying too. She was upset with herself for getting so angry. My sister was in tears, because, well, she got spanked for no reason. After all these years, I still feel horrible that I didn't tell the truth and caused so much heartache.
My mother told me she didn't like liars. She said you could never trust someone who won't take responsibility for their mistakes.
It's not easy admitting when we did something wrong. It makes us feel inadequate. For some reason, we think we're supposed to go through life doing everything perfectly. We should always say the exact right thing to everyone we meet. We should do everything correctly at work and never screw up an assignment or project. We should admit how many cookies we had today. My waistline is keeping track of that one for me.
The saying, "The truth will set you free." is a strong and valuable statement. I've learned that people will give you more respect and appreciate your honesty when you own up to your mistakes. Covering up a problem only makes matters worse. The truth will come out, and your reputation will be diminished. People will not respect or believe you in the future. Apologizing and admitting a mistake may be difficult, but in the end, it feels better to rectify a situation. We can deal with the consequences with a clear conscious.
I remember messing up an account's order, and the wrong items were delivered. The owner called me and was furious. He wanted to know what happened and threatened to cancel his business with me. I told him that it was my fault, and I was on my way to pick up his correct order. When I showed up, the owner was smiling. He said, "I'm surprised you didn't try to blame your warehouse or the delivery driver. I'm impressed that you were honest and fixed the problem quickly. I appreciate that. I want to apologize for yelling at you."
We all make mistakes. It's how we handle it, that's important. We should do our best to forgive people when they tell us the truth. Business and personal relationships are more substantial and last longer when there is trust. To live in a lie is miserable for everyone involved. We have to be open and willing to hear the truth, even when it may hurt us. Except, of course, when I ask if I look fat in my jeans. The answer should always be, "No, would you like to have another cookie?"