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Leadership Lessons: Admit When You Are Wrong

I had the great opportunity to give the devotional to the C3G, a career ministry at Northpoint Community Church (the incredible Andy Stanley is the Pastor).

I decided to forego the expected inspirational address on career management, and instead talk about a very personal life lesson that I had recently learned.

I also had the opportunity to reconnect with Peter Bourke, the engaging leader of C3G for the past sixteen years. It is amazing how many people Peter and his C3G team have helped over this time. It is truly God’s work for all of us to see.

Here is my devotional. I hope you all enjoy it.

C3G Devotional – March 18, 2019

Northpoint Community Church

"Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you”.

“For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened”.

Matthew Chapter 7 – verse 7 and 8

One week ago, I learned a valuable lesson about thinking before writing.

I also learned that there are times when you need to put your pride aside and admit that you are wrong.

I saw an article on Google News that Walmart was eliminating their front of the store Greeters.

I moved forward on LinkedIn and Facebook with some glib remarks about changing my career plans and that now I would have to aspire to be a sampler at Costco.

I got the expected amount of likes and clever replies from friends and colleagues.

I then got a LinkedIn message from someone that I did not know from Boston (at midnight no less) who scorched me by telling me that I should be embarrassed at myself for making such insensitive remarks about a job cut that would hurt those with disabilities.

I reacted by sending a private message back to my critic and said that his comments were inappropriate and that if he knew me he would know that I am a big supporter of the adaptive needs community (I sit on the board of Special Pops Tennis) and I give myself to many other causes that help those in need.

He replied with a snarky comment. I knew that he would not change his mind. I could have then written the encounter off as the rantings of an overly politically sensitive social media troll.

I then went back to the Walmart article and went beyond the headline to read the entire story.

That was when I realized that I was completely wrong.

Had I read the full article I would have seen that the Walmart policy was going to single out and impact those who deserved to be treated better - people with disabilities, seniors looking for much needed extra income, and people who want to connect with others.

I realized that my casual comment was tone-deaf and that these people deserved better. What I should have done is read the full article (vs. the headline) so that I got the full context of what was happening.

I then should have raised my voice and said how wrong Walmart is for doing this - rather than make some supposedly "clever" remark. I heard that Walmart has reconsidered its decision and will not be eliminating the Greeter position.

That is good news.

I wrote a complete apology and published it on LinkedIn and Facebook. I did not hear back from my critic, and I do not think I ever will. I needed to set the record straight and admit that I was completely wrong.

I could have ridden out the incident (there was only one negative comment, but that one hit home).

That would have been wrong.

My apology was not hard for me to do because it aligned with my personal beliefs, but I have to admit it was tough to do it in the public square.

I learned that trying to be right all the time is the wrong way to live

While we may think that “always being right’ will gain us respect, we are actually lying to ourselves.

I have to admit that I do not have all of the answers.

I have to be brave enough to have an open mind and open heart to those who disagree.

While I consider myself to be humble man - does this humility hold up when I am tested?

 I learned that my pride is a powerful defensive tool that I display when tested.

Allowing my pride to take over blinded me from the fact that: my ignorance was invisible to me but not to others.

 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

This episode was a great lesson for me.

It showed me to be open to criticism, show real humility, and be willing to admit when I am wrong.

I will probably never have another encounter with the snarky guy from Boston but I am thankful to him for making me better – making me stronger.