What You Should Never Apologize For, and What You Should


Apologies are fine when you've done something wrong.

But that's just the thing: you have to have done some wrong or hurtful action.

Apologizing for the way you are is a recipe for self-destruction. To admit fault for being a certain way, or wanting certain things, is to tell yourself that there is something fundamentally unworkable about who you are.

This pits you at war with yourself, and being apologetic for what you believe in is the exact opposite of what you need to be an effective, inspiring, leader.

Apology is the opposite of authenticity. Apology is defensive and unsure, while authenticity is forthright and confident.

People look for authenticity and confidence in their leaders, not apology.

Of course, there are times when an apology is warranted and expected. Those times are when you DO or SAY something that hurts another person, breaks a promised agreement, or at least seriously inconveniences them.

And it's not about the word, "I'm sorry," either. It's about the attitude of apology and using it in the right circumstances.

Sometimes "I'm sorry" is an expression of empathy or a clever way to manage a social tangle, just as you can be apologetic without actually saying, "I'm sorry." This article does a great job of explaining what is an apology and what isn't.

Now, I'll be honest, this isn't easy. There are still times I find myself apologizing for something I don't need to. If I catch it, I sometimes try to rephrase it, or I just go with it and stay mindful.

But being determined to be authentic, and no apologetic, about who I am and my vision for my life and the world, has definitely shifted how I hold myself and deal with others.

So, if you'd like to try this new perspective on, here are the rules:

  1. Never apologize to yourself or others for who you are, what you desire, or how you feel.
  2. Do apologize for actions or words that hurt others or inconvenience them (even then, I prefer to use "pardon" or "excuse me").
  3. Apologize when you fail to live up to a commitment, promise, or agreement.

It's that simple.

- K***

PS: By the way, I'm also saying don't apologize for feeling apologetic. If that's who you are, embrace it, IF it is helping you be the person you want to be. It wasn't helping me, so I looked for a way to grow past it.