The past few weeks of Sports Radio have been awash in all things deflated. It has been fascinating to follow. I know more about p.s.i., atmospheric game time conditions, needles, and grown men who use the moniker “the deflator” than I ever thought I would. Seriously. It is amazing the things in America we spend our time discussing.
It’s important to disclose that I grew up in Indiana and have now lived in Denver, Colorado for over 10 total years. Therefore it should come as no surprise that my two favorite NFL teams are the Colts and the Broncos. So when air was taken out of the Patriot’s sails recently, my response was not entirely objective. That said, there seems to be at least one point that most of the talking heads agree upon. If Tom Brady would have come out in that infamous January press conference and simply admitted to a base level of chicanery while asking for forgiveness amid promises of future rule following, the story would have been dead in the water. We don’t expect our sports heroes to be perfect. But we do ask that they be honest.
Even a rudimentary reading of the released text messages among Patriot’s staff reveals significant discrepancies in Mr. Brady’s story. His efforts to obfuscate and save face may end up costing him a four game suspension, and the Patriot’s organization $1 million plus future draft picks. To those of you unfamiliar with the NFL, these are significant penalties with potentially long ranging impacts. All of which could have been avoided by a leader stepping forward and owning a mistake.
All of us make mistakes. What separates great men and women from others is not a lack of mistakes. The greatest of us, the truest leaders among us, own their mistakes and doggedly seek to learn from them. This is a concept I desperately want my kids to learn.
I have four children. Three boys and one girl. They are 7, 10, 10 and almost 12. It is a daily honor and blessing to raise them. My relationship with each of them is not perfect, but thus far, we have created an environment that fosters open, honest and regular communication. Our conversations range from Legos, to superheroes, from “maxi-dresses” to human anatomy. We cover the gamut.
One topic we revisit often is this idea of “owning your mistakes.” We regularly remind the kids that we do not expect them to be perfect. Mistakes are going to happen. They are going to make wrong choices from time to time. The key is not to shoot for perfection. The goal is to own your mistakes when you make them.
When we own our mistakes:
- We cut the ropes of blame that seek to pull us toward victimhood.
- We bring our choices out of the dark and into the light of honest evaluation.
- We embrace the humility necessary to become our best selves.
- We affirm the hurt we’ve caused in others.
You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them. Proverbs 28:13
It has taken me years to learn this lesson. Much of my youth was spent trying to deflect attention away from my mistakes. I expended so much energy convincing others I had the best intentions, or they just didn’t understand, or how they were just plain wrong in their assessment of my actions. Energy better spent leaning into criticism, admitting my short-comings and striving forward to better become the man God created me to be.
Questions for reflection:
What are some mistakes you need to own?
Who do you need to own them with?
How will owning a mistake draw you closer to God and closer to His best for you?