How to make an apology.

It would seem all major networks will be waiting to capture Tiger Woods’s apology Friday.  I know many people say that they could care less about what Tiger says, but I feel his apology is important, and we do in fact need to hear it.

I’ve been apologizing since I could talk.  (I think most of us have.) You would think with all of the mistakes I have made in my life I would have mastered apologizing at an early age.  In truth, however, the best advice I ever received about apologizing  came just a couple of years ago from an amazing man named Randy Pausch. Randy is best known for  his book and public presentation series, the Last Lecture.

Randy teaches us that a bad apology is better than no apology at all, and a good apology has three very important parts:

He outlined these 3 steps for a proper apology:

  • What I did was wrong.
  • I feel badly that I hurt you.
  • How do I make you feel better?  ( pg. 162, The last Lecture, by Randy Randy Pausch, 2008)

As a Christian I believe I need to ask for forgiveness when I wrong someone, and I believe I must forgive others when they wrong me. (The Lord’s Prayer.)  Apologies are a part of our legal system and a component of good citizenship.  Schools, the workplace, families, and relationships must center around the act of offering a sincere apology, and just as important, we must learn to  sincerely accept an apology.

Why does Tiger’s apology matter? Shouldn’t his apology be private and for his family?

Tiger’s public apology is important. He mislead and disappointed his family and the world.  Whether athletes, politicians, and other public figures like it or not, their unfaithfulness, lies, and corruption impact our society, future generations, and the morality and ethics of our times. (Yes, it’s that big of a deal.) It seems with each public lie and infidelity publicized in the media, our collective morality takes a step backwards, an innocence is lost, and a future generation is negatively impacted. Public figures are thrust into positions of leadership whether they accept the responsibility or not. (I define leadership as the ability to influence others.)

In some situations a public apology is needed. Years ago a young coach shared a story with me about  how a parent humiliated him in front of a team of boys he was coaching. The parent criticized and ridiculed the young coach in a truly awful manner. Hours later the man approached the young coach in a parking lot alone and offered an insincere apology. When the man was asked whether he could come to a practice and offer the same apology in front of the  boys who witnessed his verbal assault, the man refused.  Tiger didn’t humiliate and betray his family privately; it was a public debacle.

Tiger has apologized to his wife and children. The contents of his apology are their private matter.  I  hope they can keep their family together. They have much to work on and that task will be made even greater with all of the publicity surrounding their difficulties.  Tiger’s biggest problem is that he did not live an authentic life. He portrayed himself as a certain individual and acted in direct contrast to that image. We must strive for authenticity in our lives.

A man should be remembered for his best actions, not his worst. No one asks us to forget, but only to forgive.

Once again, I remind you, the greatest gift you can ever offer anyone in this life is a second chance.

Kelly is an inspirational speaker, author, and artist. Please visit our website to book Kelly for your next event. 1-800-831-4825

Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker. His presentations have entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and numerous other venues where people come together to be entertained and improve their lives. Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.

3 thoughts on “How to make an apology.

  1. Kelly,
    I am a strong believer in the need to make amends for the wrongs we commit against others. It doesn’t matter if the wrong is committed with malice, the result of selfishness or fear, or a temporary lack of foresight or understanding of how our actions can and do affect others. We make mistakes. Our ability to recognize them, honestly understand the impact they have on others, and subsequently commit ourselves to the humbling action of apology, is a testament to our character and integrity.
    Asking for forgiveness, and giving it, is paramount to our personal and spiritual growth.
    My 12 year old son understands this, and last week expressed this sentiment as only a 12 year old can:
    “Messing up is the key to life. The more you mess up, the more you can learn.”

    As a society, we have recently been inundated with unauthentic apologies, devaluing their importance, and even worse, robbing us of these opportunities for growth. A recent example would be McGwire’s recent unauthentic apology for steroid use: “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.” Although he admitted to the use, I am left with the impression that he doesn’t realize the larger picture of how his actions have affected others, but instead regrets being caught. Maybe it’s just semantics, but his statement just doesn’t indicate to me that his apology is sincere.

    For this reason, I humbly disagree with your assertion that a “bad apology is better than no apology”. I also haven’t read The Last Lecture, so perhaps I’m misinterpreting the message.

    I would define a “bad apology” as one that isn’t sincere, one that obligingly given as a result of continued selfishness, one that lacks honest introspection, one that still lacks awareness and empathy for and of others. It isn’t authentic, and, unfortunately, can result in adding insult to injury.

    • Well said. You have made excellent observations.

      In my opinion, there are insincere, meaningless apologies like the excellent examples you have pointed out, and ‘bad’ apologies in that that the words alone cannot atone for the wrong doing, but it is a step in the right direction.

      You son is amazing. What an excellent view of life. Proud of him.

      Sent from my iPhone

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