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If You Mess Up – Fess Up!

Why is it so hard for some people to apologize? This seems especially true for public officials and CEOs.

At our recent Applied Materials “Silicon Valley Turkey Trot”, which I founded seven years ago and still direct through our Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation, we had some challenges with traffic and with congestion at our race finish line.

While we have been putting on the Turkey Trot for seven years, the race has grown exponentially every year. This year, the race included 21,000 adult participants and another 1,100 kids. With the larger numbers, we had congestion – both in traffic before the race and for our runners at the finish line at the race.

On Monday, I sent out both a thank you – but also an apology – to all 22,000-plus participants. People don’t want to hear excuses, but they do appreciate being heard, and knowing someone is working on solutions to any problems they experienced.

More than 200 participants responded to my letter of apology. As you might expect, the responses were gracious, solutions-oriented and thoughtful.

When you make a mistake; when you mess up; – fess up.

Overwhelmingly, people understand that we are all human and that mistakes happen. Just try not to make the same mistakes twice, and own the ones you do make.

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