What happened to the days of owning up to our mistakes? Everyday we see starlets, politicians, CEOs and others behaving badly, yet it’s rare for a public figure to accept the blame for his or her mistakes. Instead, it seems there is always someone else to point the finger at.
As a business owner, you may be similarly hesitant to admit to a client or prospect that you have made a mistake, and yet doing so in a constructive way can actually help your brand. So says author Michael Houlihan, in his soon-to-be-released book The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine. According to Houlihan and co-author Bonnie Harvey, admitting a mistake can be a valuable opportunity to gain loyalty and respect.
Clients and prospects will judge you not by how you perform when you are at your best, but how you perform when you are at your worst. “The fact is, everyone—and every company—makes mistakes. Denying that they have happened usually exacerbates and magnifies an already awkward situation because chances are, you aren’t fooling anyone and you appear insincere. In fact, in a very real way, trying to dodge responsibility can hurt your reputation more than simply owning up to the mistake in the first place,” he explains.
And Houlihan knows what he is talking about. With very little experience in winemaking, he and Harvey founded Barefoot Cellars in the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County, Calif., farmhouse. Naturally, they made mistakes along the way. “So early on, Bonnie and I made a conscious decision to confront our mistakes, and to view them as opportunities to learn and grow. I believe that attitude is part of what ultimately made Barefoot Cellars successful.”