By: Chris Yandle, @ChrisYandle
We all make mistakes. Some of us make bigger — or more public — mistakes than others, while the rest of us make mistakes that may not see the light of day.
We are human. We are prone to make mistakes.
But, the Internet and our outrage culture make it difficult for any one of us to make mistakes. Everyone becomes so enraged that another human makes a mistake that it must be FIRE AND BRIMSTONE and we must burn down the entire village so that the individual learns never to screw up again.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?!?
God knows I am far from perfect. I try to keep my critiques and criticisms of people’s mistakes to a minimum because I know how it feels. But, I, too, err and have become too critical of another person.
I believe in second chances.
Last week, the world erupted over #LochteGate. Was it a story? Probably not, but Ryan Lochte made it one by lying to his mother, the media, his teammates, and the world. He made a mistake. However, sponsors dropped him like a bad habit. Why? Because they are afraid that he’ll make them look bad and because there are hundreds of other athletes lining up to fill those endorsement roles.
He’s expendable. His bank account was collateral damage.
What should he have done? Honestly, had he not mentioned the incident at all, then it would have been a non-story. He would have paid for damages to the gas station bathroom, apologized, and called it a done. Just a drunken night out in Rio. Instead, he lied about it, created a situation that wasn’t 100% accurate, and attempted to give Rio a black eye. What he did to the bathroom was not the egregious act; it was the lying and compounding those lies, not to mention he manipulated his younger teammates to lie for him.
If you take away another from Loche’s ordeal, it should be these four things:
- Don’t lie…ever. Tell the truth from the beginning. People will forgive you quicker.
- Never make a situation about you.
- Sometimes staying quiet is better than loose lips.
- Apologize early
I started my consulting business in the spring when I was told I’d be losing my job. I wanted to show the world that I was not a one-trick pony and that my skills transcend the sports industry. The week I was packing up my house to move my family back to Louisiana, I received a text message from Emily Austen, a former FOX Sports sideline reporter who lost her job in June (Google her, I’m not going into details). She had contacted someone about an idea she had and they told Emily to contact ME. Me? Me.
While my wife was packing up our house, I met Emily for coffee in midtown Atlanta on a Monday afternoon in late July. I was familiar with her story and my initial response to watching her video was like everyone else. But, after talking to her for five minutes, I realized what kind of person she was. She was kind, funny, smart, but most of all, broken. For two hours, Emily and I talked, cried, laughed, and created a game plan to help her get back up.
It just so happened that earlier that day I was asked to be the guest speaker at Nicholls State’s Student-Athlete Orientation in August. I wanted her to have it because I believed in her. She has a powerful message that should resonate with people from all across the country. One second, one minute, one instance can change your life.
On Sunday, I sat in the auditorium audience in Nicholls State. She was powerful. I had heard her story multiple times before, but listening to her talk to the students was a rush.
I am proud of her because she deserved a second chance. That mistake she made was not her. She is one of the most caring and thoughtful people I met, and I am proud to call her a friend and colleague.
She won’t be down for long.
SECOND CHANCES AND KARMA
I’ve always believed in the good of people and second chances because I feel if I treat people the right way, then maybe karma will respond positively to me. It’s been two months since I lost my job, and it’s getting harder and harder every day to get out of bed and facing another job application rejection.
What keeps me going is the power of a second chance. I want a second chance. I still feel like I have to prove myself to the world and to others. The original premise of my consulting business was to help teams and schools with their social and public relations strategies, but now I realize what I’ve been missing these last few years.
I’ve missed working one-on-one with people and helping them become better versions of themselves. I missed helping people solve their problems. I missed helping people re-brand themselves. I missed helping people.
I believe in second chances, and I know I find myself asking for one every day.
Helping people rebuild, rebound, and recover should be an essential part of your public relations strategy. Life isn’t one strike and you’re out. Life is about how you respond when things don’t go your way.
We should be a part of the solution in giving second chances.
Chris Yandle is the Founder and Chief Strategist for Maximus. Strategic Consulting. He spent 10+ years working in college athletics as a public relations and communications director. For more information on Maximus, visit www.maximusstrategy.com. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisYandle.