June 2nd, 2010. Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga needed one more out to complete his perfect game. The crowd held their breath. The pitch. The throw to first base. And the batter was called…safe. Safe? Jim Joyce, in a potentially career-ending call, failed to see that the ball made it to first base before the batter. And he knew it as soon as he called it. What happened next marked Jim Joyce as a shining example of how to handle a mistake.
We all make them. You send out a proposal to a client only to realize that you’ve made a typo. You give a quote to a potential customer on a print job only to realize that you’ve grossly underestimated the cost. How you handle your mistake determines your reputation and your personal brand. The most important rule? Own up to it immediately. Nothing puts off a client or a colleague like a person unwilling to admit they are wrong. By making excuses or shifting the blame elsewhere you eradicate your credibility, both personally and professionally. Owning your mistake displays integrity and trust. I would be willing to take another chance on a vendor if they not only apologized but made good on what they did wrong.
Think about a time when you had a bad experience at a restaurant. If the manager comes to apologize and comps your meal, wouldn’t you go back? You have been treated with respect and that wins out over covering up a flub every time. It only takes one bad review to mark you as unreliable or untrustworthy. Make sure you apologize for your mistake, even if you must swallow your pride to do so. It makes all the difference in the long run.
So what exactly happened after that fateful game? Jim Joyce immediately owned up to his botched call and apologized publicly for ruining what could have been a landmark event in a young pitcher’s life. Galarraga told reporters, “(Joyce) probably feels more bad than me. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s human. I understand. I give the guy a lot of credit for saying, ‘I need to talk to you.’ You don’t see an umpire tell you that after a game. I gave him a hug.” And at the start of the next day’s game, the two met at home plate and shook hands. Joyce’s accountability and Galarraga’s sportsmanship turned a mistake into a positive sports moment.
The point is: hold yourself accountable every time. It makes all the difference.
— Jordyn Haas