The ABC's Of Handling Mistakes
by Steve Goodier
A grizzled old sea captain was often spotted by his crew opening
a small, locked box on the bridge, peeking inside at its contents
and shutting the lid before anyone might glimpse inside. The
crew's curiosity grew and, on the day he retired, they rushed to
the bridge, cut the lock and looked inside the box. There they
found a sheet of paper that read, "Left - port. Right -
Are you afraid to make a mistake? Some people feel as if no one
is ever paying attention until they make a mistake! If you goofed
in a big way recently, maybe you need to hear about Roy Riegels.
The story is told about Roy and the 1929 Rose Bowl championship
football game between Georgia Tech and the University of
California. Shortly before halftime, a man named Roy Riegels made
a huge mistake. He got the ball for California and somehow became
confused and started running in the wrong direction! One of his
teammates outdistanced him and tackled him after he had run 65
yards, just before he would have scored for the opposing team. Of
course, Georgia Tech gained a distinct advantage through the
The men filed off the field and went into the dressing room. All
but Riegels sat down on the benches and on the floor. He wrapped
his blanket around his shoulders, sat in a corner, put his face
in his hands and wept.
Coach Nibbs Price struggled with what to do with Roy. He finally
looked at the team and said simply, "Men, the same team that
played the first half will start the second."
All the players except Roy trotted out to the field. He didn't
budge. Though the coach looked back and called to him again, he
remained huddled in the corner. Coach Price went to him and said,
"Roy, didn't you hear me?"
"Coach," he said, "I can't do it. I've ruined you; I've ruined
the school; I've ruined myself. I couldn't face that crowd in the
stadium to save my life."
But Coach Price put his hand on Riegels' shoulder and said, "Roy,
get up and go on back; the game is only half over."
Roy Riegels went back and those Tech men will tell you that they
have never seen a man play football as well as Roy Riegels played
that second half.
The next time you make a mistake, it might be good to remember
the ABC method of handling mistakes.
A -- Acknowledge your error and accept responsibility for it.
Don't try to fix the blame on other people or circumstances. When
you fix the blame, you never fix the problem.
B -- Be gentle with yourself. The game is only half over. This is
not the first mistake you ever made, nor will it be the last. You
are still a good and caring person. Besides, later you may laugh
at the blunder, so try to lighten up a bit now.
C -- Correct it and move on. Correcting mistakes may also mean to
make amends, if necessary. "Those who are wise don't consider it
a blessing to make no mistakes," says Wang Yang-Ming. "They
believe instead that the great virtue is the ability to correct
mistakes and to continually reinvent oneself."
Now, go make your mistakes. And though some may be no less than
spectacular, if you practice the ABC method, you'll live to laugh
about many of them.
Steve Goodier's books & newsletter: http://LifeSupportSystem.com.