Photo credit: Phil Salisbury, Blackpool
I decided to write my latest blog about making mistakes as that’s something I have done a lot of over the years so I feel well placed to share my insights. I have never been one of these people who has passed through life saying I have no regrets, as I have plenty of them but what is important is that I take the lessons, don’t dwell on the mistake and keep moving forward, always.
I have made mistakes in business, mistakes in love and mistakes in pretty much every aspect of my life, some are big ones, some are small ones but they are certainly all moments that have made me stop, reflect and take on an important educational session with myself that has allowed me to grow and develop as a person. When things go wrong for you, it’s very easy to bury your head in the sand, pretend it has not happened, direct the blame elsewhere or simply ignore it and move on. Sometimes all of the above are the easiest options and the also the most appealing too, but they are by no means the best options that’s for sure.
I am very proud to be an ambassador for several organisations, all of which I do as volunteer which takes up a lot of my personal time. Therefore leading by example is extremely important as I am aware that many eyes are often on me as a source of inspiration which I don’t take lightly, especially the younger generation including school children, cubs, disability groups, cadets and others. I have a serious duty and responsibility to inspire, inform and support as much as possible, those that I represent. I know I am far from perfect and have a lot to learn in life but I also know I have come a hell of a long way from being a teenager brought up on a rough council estate who left school with no qualifications and had a criminal record before my 15th birthday!
Taking responsibility for mistakes is important, especially when you are in a position of influence or authority, this was something the military taught me from an early age. It is important to have the courage to own up when you are wrong and then do your very best to make it right as soon as you can. Mistakes can happen for many reasons and making them is only human. It can also be very embarrassing when you have to own up to a mistake, it can cause stress, anxiety and uncertainty in the short run as you don’t know how people will react, but you will sleep much more peacefully knowing you have done the right thing. My old Commanding Officer used to say ‘do as you ought to, not as you want to’, I think this is great advice when it comes to owning any wrong doing you are responsible for.
I’m going to use this blog post to also make a public apology for a mistake I made earlier in 2019 when I posted a series of photos on my social media that were not taken by me, yet I claimed they were in order to live up to the expectations I perceived others had of me on my travels. Not only did this mean I was breaching my own personal value which I do my best to up hold at all times, integrity! It also meant that I was taking the credit for someone else’s amazing work that was nothing to do with me, without paying them for the pleasure either. I let myself down and I let down those that support me so kindly too for which I am wholeheartedly and sincerely sorry for. This was a very stupid thing to do and as much as I have reflected on this unacceptable act, I still to this day do not know why I did it. There is no excuse. The only logical reasons I can come up with are, to feed my own ego and to fulfil other people’s expectations, or the perceived expectations they have of me.
So, how did I try to fix my lapse in judgement, well firstly I removed the photographs in question and deleted them, as a minimum this was the very least I could do. Secondly I personally emailed the owners (or agencies) of the various photographs in question who all kindly replied giving me permission to use them as long as I credited the owner or indeed paid the royalty fee associated with it. They were in fact all extremely professional in their responses to me. I have many great friends who are photographers, videographers and media professionals who work extremely hard to capture the powerful images from around the world and I know how much they hate it when people use their work for their own benefit and gain without crediting them for their talents.
If you are reading this, firstly I apologise to you personally for my actions above and assure you I took a great lesson from this situation. They say a wise person learns from his mistakes but an even wiser one learns from the mistakes of other people. You may be extremely reluctant to acknowledge your mistakes in public which is understandable, probably because you don’t want anyone to notice them. The problem is people will notice them and people will hold you accountable which is why you must first of all hold yourself accountable. You will gain a lot more respect for acknowledging and owning your mistakes than you will for masking them and hoping they will go away.
“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts the most.”
- Nikki Giovanni.