“I’m sorry you feel that way,” is not an apology.
It transfers blame; lacks the desire to reconcile; and attempts to squash tension without any real ownership or acknowledgment.
Brené Brown articulates it perfectly that to empathize with someone’s experience, we must be willing to believe their experience as they see it, instead of how we imagine their experience to be.
It’s the root of success in love, business, and being a human in this world.
Yet, I caught that phrase rolling off my tongue, earlier this week, after a woman I respect, with my whole heart, held me accountable, in the honest way I always ask for.
I wanted to tell her it wasn’t my intention.
To reiterate the narrative the way I remembered it.
To blame my inability to love and show up for her on the chaos that is our reality.
My emotions got the best of me and my defense was turned all the way up.
All she really needed to hear— all I needed to say—was “I’m sorry.”
When we hurt the people we love.
When we make mistakes at work.
When our conditioning and biases, conscious or unconscious, get the best of us.
When we are in a leadership position.
We are going to f*ck up.
It’s the only promise.
That same woman reminded me, though, that we only fail when we stop trying to be better.
How we do one thing is how we do all things.
I know the power of a love that is rooted in pure, salt of the earth, soul-baring honesty.
I know the potential of a business that forgets about the dollar, throws the picture-perfect image to the wind, and, instead, creates a safe space for everyone to feel honest.
I know and trust in the friendship, the working relationships that aren’t afraid to cry uncontrollably; that honor the painful truths of this world. For, the only way to get past pain is through it.
There are days where I don’t honor any of the above with the courage they deserve. And, part of being a leader, a lover, or a human is taking ownership, even when we didn’t mean to mess up.
All anyone will remember is our integrity.
All anyone will remember is how much love we had in the moments, we know, we could have done better.
That’s the legacy.
Let’s keep trying to be better.