Show me a leader who can't offer a decent apology, and I'll show you a leader who will ultimately have no followers. And to quote my mother's favorite adage, "To be a leader, you must attract followers.
I've always been a little hard to contain. Some people call it joie de vivre, others, my psychiatrist included, call it ADD. One of the mainstays of my personality, and arguably a symptom of the disorder, is extremely impulsive behavior.
Despite its fading glory, I still worry that we're on the verge of permanently being remembered as the YOLO Generation -- a generation whose baffling and repellent vocal majority has decided we'd rather stand for youthful arrogance than stand for nothing at all.
I have long known these feelings to be irrational. I could bore you with stories from childhood and upbringing that would make them a little more understandable but they wouldn't make them any more excusable.
No, he owned up, no strings attached. He said he made a statement that turned out to be not true. He said he understood that it is scary to get a cancelation notice. And he apologized. Obama's apology gets full points for being unequivocal.
Argument and debate are going to happen, even in the best of partnerships, but it doesn't have to mean doomsday or that you're not compatible. In fact, I have found some conflict can actually be a stepping stone to a more honest, intimate place and can foster better communication.
Having the courage to admit we've screwed up is one of the hardest things to do. But is simply saying "I was wrong" sufficient? Giving and receiving apologies the right way isn't a matter of etiquette; it's a crucial component of ethical intelligence.
While I have never participated consistently in any form of organized Judaism, and while I cannot bring myself to believe in the magic of a "Book of Life" exactly, I am intrigued by Judaism's prescribed process for atonement.
How many times a day do you apologize? Think about it. Not a major, "I messed up" kind of acknowledgement, more of a figure of speech, a rationalization, an excuse. If you're like me, it happens often.
"Misspeaking" refers to fumbling for the right word. It is accidental, a slip-up. It is not when someone who clearly believes what he or she is saying tries to make nice by claiming they didn't really mean what they very obviously said.
Given our propensity for hurting each other -- usually inadvertently through our clumsiness or our being inconsiderate -- getting good at apologizing should be standard-issue emotional equipment for membership in the human race. And it is. Any one can do it.
One of my New Year's resolutions is to stop saying a "sorry" that's empty, apologize fully when it's appropriate and to do my part to shift our culture of meaningless or non-existent apologies. Anyone else up for that?