Once again, hats off to the world of sports for providing yet additional support to an age-old adage. Ownership of your decisions and a bit of contrition will go much farther, much faster, than denial. Denial in the face of facts is never a winning strategy – never. It simply delays the inevitable.
The latest example involves Floyd Landis and the world of cycling. Shocking as it might be to learn of doping in sports, Floyd now acknowledges he was doping…after 4 years of denials. Of course he denied the test results (both of them) and fought his 2 year ban from the sport and accused everyone and every institution remotely tied to the process as being tainted and aligned against him. 4 years, a book, a legal defense fund, countless interviews pleading his innocence and several million dollars later he admits it. He looks like a complete fool. His reputation and legacy totally trashed.
To reinforce the lesson, consider a few quick case studies of other epic sports dopers:
Barry Bonds – Denies It – Publicly hated – the face of the steroid era.
Alex Rodriquez – Owns it – Totally forgotten in a matter of weeks.
Roger Clemens – Denies It – The sordid details keep on seeping out – his reputation and legacy in tatters.
Marion Jones – Denies It – Convicted of Perjury and spent 6 months in prison.
The NFL – Ignore it – Maybe you will be lucky and no one will call you on it…maybe.
Mark McGuire – Ignore it then own it – The stain lingers, but will never disappear.
So what is the lesson? Simple really, just own it. Good or bad, easy or hard, clean or dirty, just own what you do, the decisions you make and the path you choose. No one is expected to be perfect. If there is anything that sports has shown us it is that people will forgive and forget if you just own the mistake. Admit it, show contrition, learn from it and move forward. The human capacity for empathy is almost without limit. Honesty is a powerful thing – everyone gets it.