My 11-year-old son is an enthusiastic hockey player. So enthusiastic that at last week’s practice, he kept shooting the puck after his coach blew the whistle.
On the way home, I asked my son what his reasons were for shooting after the whistle blew. “There’s never enough time to work on my shot,” he said. “I want to get better.” I understood his desire to improve but I asked what would happen if all of his teammates did what they wanted when they wanted during their limited ice time. Upon reflection, he replied that it would be chaos. He needed some more time to come up with more productive ways to practice his shot.
An hour later he had resolved the issue - he would practice his shot in the backyard and at his ice time at school. There was just one thing left to do: he was to apologize to his coach before the game that afternoon. The apology had to be sincere and he had to look his coach in the eye as he spoke.
The tears started to flow as my son contemplated this task - this was the hardest part for a shy 11-year old.
On the way to the game, his dad reminded him about the apology. He wanted to get it over with before hitting the ice. By the time he got to the rink, he was ready. He knew what he wanted to say.
That night as I tucked him into bed, I asked him what the best part of his day was. I was floored when he told me that the highlight of the day was apologizing to his coach.
He said he felt lighter after the apology. He felt a stronger connection to his coach who had shared his love for shooting pucks and the same desire to keep shooting after the whistle blew. He kindly accepted my son's apology and my son could move on.
When I signed my kids up for hockey, I wanted them to learn life skills while enjoying a healthy pursuit. This is exactly the kind of lesson I hoped they would learn. My son discovered the reward of courage in the face of a daunting task.
Is there a task that you have been dreading that could be accomplished as effectively as by giving a heartfelt apology? What is holding you back? Challenge yourself to address this task today – really push yourself to tackle what you perceive to be difficult – it will be the most rewarding part of your day.
Really liked your blog on apologizing. It is not something that has come easily for me. As I have grown older I realize that how we learn is from our mistakes. And along the way, it may require (quite liekly in fact) an apology. None of us like being wrong... and when we get over ourselves we realize how important it is to let others know we care and want to do well. Your son learned a very important lesson Ellen, and he's lucky to have parents who encourage him to do the right thing!!!
It is incredible the life lessons that we learn or are reminded of by our children. Thank you for sharing Ellen. In my experience as a leader I have found that a sincere apology is one of the most powerful tools available to you. It is inevitable that we will make mistakes. I feel the true sign of leadership is recognizing them and apologizing when appropriate. This act shows your team and others that you are human and builds your integrity and credibility.