The Strength to Admit

March 13, 2011

Have you ever been wrong?

The expected answer is “Of course.”

And now comes the clincher. What do you do when you know you’re wrong?

In a talk I gave for my friends in the software industry, I prompted the prestigious audience and said, “You have to say the 3 most important words. What are they?”

And then my friend Ricky Gumaru of PMAP blurted out the 3 words, “It’s Your Fault!”

And I laughed like crazy.

Everyone wants to be right. Some people will do anything to be right, even if they’re wrong.

Why is it that being right is such a big thing with some people?

Can’t they be wrong? Can’t they be human?

Motivational speaker Brian Parsley says: “Here’s the big question: Who cares if you’re right? You teach your children from an early age to apologize when they’re wrong because it’s the right thing to do. Yet, as adults, you forget this basic principle.

I’ve seen adults make a scene in an office environment “defending their rightness.” I’m not implying you should back down from your principles, but most arguments are more about ego than facts.”

And Brian is right.

There are advantages in admitting you’re wrong.

  1. Strength of character.
    Only secure and confident people are strong enough to admit their mistakes. Insecure people insist on being right all the time. The moment they admit their mistakes and rectify it, they learn from it and their character is built.
  2. Sterling reputation.
    What is worth more than money? A good name. Even the Bible says that a good name is worth more than gold and silver. A damaged reputation can take years to build back if destroyed. People respect honest people who are big enough to admit their mistakes. It is a show of strength as the person exhibits a willingness to take responsibility for his actions.
  3. Increased Respect.
    There’s a misconception that if you tell people you made a mistake they won’t trust you anymore. The opposite is the reality. People will trust you more because they know you’re willing to tell the truth whether it’s in your favor or not.

So guess what? You messed up. And now that you know the advantages in admitting you are wrong what should you do?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Admit your mistake and get over it.
    The ability to admit you are mistaken is a great display of strength and character. But equally important is your ability to move on and overcome. When you try to cover it up with lame excuses or blaming others, you lose your credibility. If you make a mistake that impacts someone else in a less than favorable way, do both of you a favor by letting him or her know.
  2. Give people permission.
    Brian Parsley says: “Most people don’t admit their mistakes because of fear. They’re afraid they won’t be forgiven. If someone admits a mistake to you, let them know it’s okay. Share with them a mistake you’ve made in the past. This one act can give your relationship a bigger boost than years of no conflict. It shows you care and allows them to be human. If you don’t think you’re going to have a long-term relationship, still give them the dignity you would want back from someone if you admitted your mistake.” So be gracious. There are 2 certainties in life. No it’s not death and taxes.

The 2 certainties in life are these:

  1. There is a God and
  2. You are not Him so be gracious.

There is no such thing as a perfect person. There are only stupid people who pretend to be perfect. Do not trust them. They are charlatans. These people should be crucified on the cross. And so get real and face the fact that you will make mistakes. It’s all a part of growing as an individual. Many of my life’s most valuable lessons come from the mistakes I have committed. And even as I learn from my own mistakes I need to be alert and learn from the mistakes of others too. Not to spite them but to learn from them.

Life is too short. You just don’t have the time to make all the mistakes you can learn from. Smart people learn from their own mistakes.  Smarter people learn from the mistakes of others.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Dorm Boy

    I work in a company wherein an error is not acceptable. I keep asking why our errors and committing mistakes are big deal to them? For me what’s the big deal is accepting our faults and not on committing mistakes.

  2. evelyn

    thank u Sir Francis for inspiring me everytime you have new article..really it affects my everyday life…

  3. Eden Claire

    Dorm Boy – if your work has something to do with high service-level agreements, or stuff that deals with precise science, then that “no mistake” is reasonable. Can you imagine riding on a plane with your pilot “committing a minor error” that would lead to endanger the lives of people on his aircraft. Unless your job is not like these, then maybe your reasoning can be acceptable Case-to-case basis that is…

  4. Mighty

    That was a funny anecdote. Yet, it’s so true. We just have to learn how to admit if we’re wrong. 🙂

  5. j.f

    this article is worth the wait 🙂 I’m really amazed on how u never forget to incorporate Bible lessons on your topics 🙂

  6. dex

    I hate this kind of site that expalins about reality..< <this is how the author looks about the topic. everyone must look and see it with his own perspective. So why consider things as true when you yourself are the one who should make it true?. Dahil ba sinabi nia na ganito…. eh dapat ganito na nga?? Maybe he is right…but every idea has to be right. Nothing special within my point of view.

    1. Francis Kong

      Thanks for taking the time to write Dex.
      I respect your opinion and your hatred of sites like mine. You are of course entitled to it. But it is not true that you can make something true because you think it is true. Truth is beyond you and me. It has to be verifiable by the test of time, precedence, history, study and veracity based on realities tested by time and experience.
      You may not agree with my opinion of course but when you insist that what you see is truth, then you just effectively disprove the very point you are trying to prove.
      thank you for your opinion.

  7. mayet

    admitting a mistake is a great virtue.

  8. Mitchell Yu

    Thank you Sir Francis. Very inspiring piece. I hope you won’t get tired on sharing to us your priceless wisdom. God Bless. More power.

  9. Wilhelm

    Wow. ganda ng article… learned a lot! TY

  10. James

    To Dex,

    I would just like to say that I love sites like these. It is among the 1% of the web pages which is not garbage. I’m only 20 years old and I would not rely on my own understanding and just make up in my mind the what you call “Truth”. I need mentoring from my parents, from elders and and I read books. Wisdom of the people who have traversed life before me is essential so as to give me an idea of how to live my life and if ever they had mistakes, not to repeat the same mistake again.
    May God bless you.

    Thank you Mr. Kong for your articles. God bless you too.

  11. melanie

    Hi sir francis,thank you for your very inspiring articles. Keep it up sir! God bless you always.
    Dex reminds me of your story entitled “a million frog legs” from your book DUH?!!.

  12. RJ Kaspog

    I am here in Saudi where Christian books are prohibited and if found one under your possession, you might be ended in jail. I do really appreciate and I am very thankful that I found your site Sir Francis. Your articles are a blessing, it is an spiritual food for me. May your wisdom continue to be a blessing to others as well.

  13. Lida

    So inspiring..

  14. rich

    great article you have here sir francis! i agree that these things you’ve said are true indeed for i have proven it myself a lot of times. Not having to admit one’s mistake is a display of one’s weakness of character. True enough for me for i am one of those who’s not afraid to admit my mistakes… after all, we learn from our mistakes so why would i be ashame to admit that i’m learning my lessons well?

  15. conie

    hello sir francis!
    i was so lucky to be a parent of 1 of the graduates of DCLC of which you were invited to give an inspirational talk at PICC yesterday. i even listed some pointers of what you discussed. and for so many things you mentioned, this i want to share but please fill it in coz i forgot the other ‘A’—-that a person’s worth is not his Acquisition, that a person’s worth is not how he looks bec it is called appearance, his worth is not his accomplishments…………..what’s the other “A”? and that his worth is how he deals with the everyday things and people he meets. am i correct?

  16. Didz

    hi Sir Francis, later will be a big moment for us at MHCS Pampanga, we’ll be hearing thoughts from you….. i’m so excited. by just reading this article, i instantly am enticed to learn more. see you Sir…… God Bless and continue inspiring others……

    …by the way i’m deeply thankful you’ve really inspired me… how i wish many would look back on their childhood days and reflect on the very words of our dear parents and with constant reiteration tell ourselves’ the same: admit that you’ve done wrong…

  17. camry

    everytime i am pissed at work, i just read ur column in Philstar when i was still in the country. It was really such a big help for me coz i guided me just exactly when i needed it… I am very much thankful that i found ur sire at last esp. that i am far now. God bless u and ur family! U’r such a good adviser, in case u don’t know… 🙂

  18. camry

    by the way Sir, i ma sorry if i cut some of your writting and post it in my facebook… I just wanted to share it with my friends… Really very inspiring

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