US Pres. Barack Obama wrote an apology to an art history professor for his “off-the-cuff” remarks about skilled manufacturing being a better career choice than art history. It takes class and guts for a President, or anyone for that matter I guess, to apologize, much less take the time to actually write it down when he could easily have sent an email or issued a formal statement to convey his apologies.
Another president I know is hounded by an issue over apologies involving a deadly hostage-taking. However, this apology is more complicated and monumental than saying sorry to an art professor. Relations between two countries is at stake. The reason for the apology withheld is that it will result to legal implications.
I know how hard it is to say sorry. I started out this year by apologizing to one of my clients for whom I was organizing a press event. It was my first presser for this year, and I messed it up by misreading the dates. Nothing like a major blunder to give one a painful reality bite. It was hard admitting that I made a mistake. It was my first blunder since I started managing our center in Cebu. I’m good at my job, but when I make mistakes, they’re epic. It’s like my blunders make up for all the times I’ve delivered the goods.
But apologize I did. Then I worked my arse off to remedy the error in whatever way I can, even if it was too late. For days after, I beat myself up over that faux pas, mentally banging my head on the wall for being such an idiot.
Humility is always a bitter pill to swallow, isn’t it? Apologies force us to see our flaws, making them stand out in stark relief. Sure, we see the flaws, we just don’t want to linger on them too long.
When someone wrongs us, we expect them to grovel and ask for forgiveness. Okay, not grovel, just asking for forgiveness is enough. (Although some errors do require groveling.) Easier said than done, though, when you’re the offending party.
I admit that I can think of some people I’ve wronged that I have yet to apologize to. Mostly these people aren’t aware that I’ve done something to be sorry to them for. You’d probably be thinking that they’re better off not knowing, but the thing is, I know. And I have to go to bed at night knowing. I can’t live with that, which is why saying sorry to them is in my bucket list already. I have to pep talk myself to doing this first, along with a shot or two for courage. I can think of a lot of things I’d rather be facing, like an enraged bull or jumping out of an airplane (now that would make one awesome bucket list to-do).
I’ll probably end up writing them a letter the Obama way. I have beautiful penmanship. That should help sweeten the deal.