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Oops, I goofed!

"I messed up, I screwed up!" These were the words of Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the US. Do we take responsibility for our mistakes without worrying about the consequences? Prema K finds out..

india Updated: Feb 16, 2009 18:25 IST
Prema K

"I messed up, I screwed up!" These were the words of Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the US, when he discovered that two of his cabinet picks were tax violators. Everyone was optimistic about Obama and his ability to make the world a better place. Now there are diametrically opposite reactions to his first goof-up. One group of Americans is happy because, they voted for a guy who makes a mistake and owns up to it.. another group feels that the American President is losing credibility with the people of his country. Was admitting to the error Obama's humility or a smart way of conveying to his countrymen that he's human and can make mistakes too? Whatever the reasons, does it pay to be honest about one's screw-up? What does it take a person in a position of power or responsibility to own up to his or her mistake? And, does he or she risk losing people's confidence by doing so?

Anjali Chabbria (psychiatrist)
It does show a person's human side but it's not easy for everyone to admit that he's erred. But I've learnt that it's better to do that than justify one's actions.. because then, there's no end to it. And ultimately, you will be exposed at some point. So it's better to address it rightaway and deal with the consequences. People respect that, unless the mistake is a result of one's carelessness. Communicating with others is very important.. one has to explain why things went wrong.

Vinata Shetty (Reebok Master trainer)
It's instinctive for human beings to deny something rather than admit to, "I screwed up." I'm okay about my misgivings. I make mistakes and have no qualms about apologising and rectifying them. But I can't recall a situation where I've made a grave mistake. That could have led to drastic consequences.

It takes courage to admit to one's mistakes. I would respect my senior if he or she confesses to a goof-up. But if the person has goofed up fully knowing that he or she was on the wrong track, then I would consider him or her foolish or stupid. But if it were an error of judgement, I would look up to the person.

Deric D'Souza (V P Client Servicing, Ogilvy Mather)
It's human tendency to run away from mistakes or cover up with excuses. I always take responsibility for my actions. There are instances when it's not possible to stick to deadlines. I tell my clients I have goofed up and should have taken the necessary precautions during the planning stage.
Owning up to one's mistake is an admirable trait. I would definitely look up to my boss if he or she did that, instead of blaming the team.

Abijeet Kabir (proprietor, Indus Wines)
I would twist and turn but ultimately admit to the mistake and get a heavy load off my chest.
One has to be mentally strong to admit to one's mistake. In my field of work, I've realised that it's better to confess in the initial stages instead of letting the errors multiply and incur huge losses later.
I encourage my employees to do the same.
Covering up doesn't work. I feel this also shows one in a more human light and makes people look up to you.
prema.kodical@hindustantimes.com