I was wrong..!

1925

LAST night while watching George .C. Scott acting as a New York cop in an old movie my thoughts went back many decades when dad had taken my brother and me to see the movie ‘Patton.’ I hero worshipped the General as he won battle after battle for the allied forces.
“What a man!” I thought to myself, “I wish I could be as courageous as him!” But the movie ended on a rather tragic note and I remember how sorry I’d felt for Patton who finally fell because of his arrogance. “Why?” I asked my dad and he told me another story about the same general during World War II days.
Patton once ac­cepted an invitation to dine at a press camp in Af­rica. Wine was served in canteen cups but, obvi­ously thinking he was served coffee, Patton poured cream into his cup. As he stirred in sugar, Patton was warned that his cup contained red wine and not coffee.
Now, General Patton could never, never be wrong could he? Without hesitating he replied, “I know. I like my wine this way.” And he drank it! “Bob,” said my wise dad, “It is diffi­cult to admit mistakes. It is hard to admit when we are wrong. Three of life’s most difficult words to say are, ‘I was wrong.’ But they are also three of the most powerful words we can utter.
Saying ‘I was wrong’ breaks down barriers between people. It brings estranged people together and it creates a climate where intimacy and love may flourish. You may be surprised at how positively many people re­spond to the words, “I was wrong”! I remembered Patton and I recollected my father’s words last night as I saw George C Scott again.
In his book with Ken Blanchard, Everyone’s a Coach, Don Shula tells of losing his temper near an open microphone during a televised game with the Los Angeles Rams. Millions of viewers were surprised and shocked by Don’s explicit profanity. Letters soon arrived from all over the country, voicing the disappointment of many who had respected the coach for his integrity.
Shula could have given excuses, but he didn’t. Everyone who included a return address received a personal apology. He closed each letter by stating, “I value your respect and will do my best to earn it again.”
Don Shula won the respect of his viewers once again by admitting that he was wrong in what he’d done. I hear my dad’s words coming to me across the great divide, “Bob, there are two ways to gain respect: One is to act nobly and the other is, when you fail to do so, to make no excuses in admitting you were wrong..!”