Do you remember the perfect presentation you did last week? Do you recall the perfect estimate you gave your biggest client last month? How about the last perfect day you had? I’m sorry, but you have not reached perfection. The reason is, it does not exist.
Perfect is a myth. We can get close, excellent, but we can’t reach it. Even its’ definition tells you so: ‘make (something) completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.’ I submit to you what we are doing is the bold part of the definition.
Therefore, if we now know that perfection is but a mere myth, why are we so hesitant to apologize for our lack of perfection. Yes, this blog is on the apology and not on the myth. An apology which we refuse to give because it may make us look weak when in actuality makes you stronger. The apology you feel would make us look unprofessional when it makes you brilliant. The apology that may make you look unprepared, but in reality makes you more confident.
The first thing we have to do is acknowledge that there is a challenge. It is not ‘perfect.’ There is something that went wrong. Therefore, let’s acknowledge and move from this position forward in order to make it excellent.
The next step, the most difficult for some, is, say: “I’m sorry.” If one has difficulty with those two simple little words that have so much power; practice in front of a mirror until it rolls right off the tongue. Without putting the ‘I’ you have the added challenge that you are portraying that others may be at fault, including the person you are in front of. Yes, others could be at fault, but they are not at the meeting. You can deal with them when you leave the prospects’ office, but for right now, you must take the blame.
Next, you offer an explanation. Not an excuse, but an explanation. There is a fine line. Make sure that excuses stay out of it. Don’t blame anyone. State that you have no idea why it happened, but you will rectify it, or find the fix and keep the client/prospect in the loop. One thing is to make sure the apology and explanation are separate. Never apologize and leap right into the explanation. Give the other party to at the very least acknowledge the apology.
Your explanation will include a plan of action. Therefore, the final step is to make sure the plan of action takes place. It is not enough to say: “sorry.” You must now act on the sorry. You must now take your excellent presentation and take it to the next level of excellence. However, never go for making it perfect, otherwise, you will never go back with the excellent fix.
One word of caution, the word ‘sorry’ does not mean that you do not have to take the time and work to make it as close to absolute excellence. It should never be used as a lifeline for laziness or sloppiness of work. That is a completely different discussion for another time. As much as the previous scenario may sound completely ridiculous, you would be shocked how often it actually happens. Don’t be one of ‘those.’
Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
I’m sorry that you will never be able to reach perfection, may I, therefore, suggest you embrace the habit of excellence.