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Don’t You Dare Apologize!

Humbling Down Disclaimers

People insist to say that, if they had to do it all over again, they wouldn’t change a thing. But that, of course, isn’t true of anyone.

Humbling down the opposite position ain’t all that remarkable either.  Good leaders reflect self-critically, readily admit mistakes and strive open-mindedness–all good.  But too often we pride ourselves in paradox about our own humility.  What folly it is to proclaim our worse flaws and dredge up our biggest mistakes as if it were an honorable expression of self-honesty.

“I am more critical of myself than anyone,” he says in earnest. Hmm… Personally, I prefer to think I’m better than I am.  It helps to accomplish things I’ve never done before. Sure, I would change a few things.  But why lament?  Simply saying so adds nothing to the cause.

Personally, I prefer to think I’m better than I am.  It helps to accomplish things I’ve never done before.

The preemptive expression of humble pie is also distasteful. Why ask forgiveness as you purport to say something worth saying?  “Of course, this is just one man’s view…” he says. “I could be totally wrong about this, but…; I can’t pretend to understand your dilemma, however…” Disclaimers, disclaimers. Yuk.

Getting Backs Up

There is a lot to be said about conviction.  As a public speaker and business blogger I have long been very critical of certain workplace practices.  “Calm down the rhetoric,” I’m kindly counseled. “The good stuff gets lost when people get their backs up.”

Maybe. But the good stuff also gets heard when people get their backs up. I post on my blog and speak on the circuit in order to create a response and inspire.  Whether you agree or disagree, I prefer an audience who does so with passion.

Whether you agree or disagree, I prefer an audience who does so with passion. If people insist to argue with me, then it means it matters.

If people insist to argue with me, then it means it matters. And if, instead, I exaggerate or wax kindly to make you like me, what does that say about the integrity of what I offer?

Switch HR

I began stumping my pitch to “Switch HR”* over a decade ago by speaking to Human Resource trade groups.  I wasn’t selling anything at the time, except my passion about a particularly great employer.  There, I was able to rebuild a much-broken personnel shop and launch a workplace change strategy that was unconventional in every way.  I loved telling the story.

The reaction was consistent with each HR-crowd—Half seemed to love what I had to say; the other half hated it.  Almost nobody was humdrum in between.  My message was divisive.

That’s when I knew I had something worth shouting about. That’s when I stopped apologizing.  As I was turning people away, I was forming a bond with others who shared my convictions.  And it’s the bond that builds the business, not to mention character.

There are thousands of posts that look just like the next. But very few are different. Rare does the content truly engage innovators and enrage dissenters. 

Let’s face it, there are thousands of posts in the blogosphere that look just like the next. But very few are genuinely different. Rare, does the content stray to points that truly engage innovators and enrage dissenters.  Instead, marketers push snappy web pages and succinct bullet point messages. “Keep it short and crisp,” they say.  “People don’t have time to read all this.”

Winston Churchill’s Book

Sure it’s easy to do; but that doesn’t always work for me.  And it won’t work for audiences who are thoughtful, reflective and discerning.  If you don’t have time to read my stuff, make time.  It’s good stuff!

Sound arrogant?  Of course it does. Winston Churchill famously remarked, History will be kind to me because I intend to write it.  Greatness that.

“History will be kind to me because I intend to write it.”
- Winston Churchill

But such brazenness also invites scorn. You cannot truly lead without disagreement, dissension, maybe even mutiny. Sure popularity is one way to get people to follow you. Another is to push them to conform.

However, truly awesome leaders demonstrate that it’s okay not to conform.

Apologize Not

And when the people see you are willing to be first into the fray–better yet, when you create the fray– they will be thrilled, even honored, to follow you into battle.

You want to lead? Then get out there and be the real deal.

So keep offending and delighting as the case may be—knowing that a good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; but a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.

You want to lead? Then get out there and be the real deal.

And don’t you dare apologize!

Other Resources on Switch HR Strategies

In addition, Brian Patrick Jensen recommends:

Netflix Freedom and Responsibility presentation and

Why We Hate HR (Fast Company).

BRIAN PATRICK JENSEN’S “SWITCH HR” IDEAS, recommendations, referral links, PRESENTATIONS, BLOG POSTS, VIDEOS, TRAINING CONTENT AND OTHER BRANDED MEDIA OR COPYRIGHT MATERIALS IN NO WAY REFLECT OR REPRESENT THE VIEWS, OPINIONS OR PROGRAMS OF ANY OTHER COMPANY OR PERSON, INCLUDING BRIAN’S CURRENT OR PREVIOUS EMPLOYERS.

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