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The Humility Test: Can you Admit when you’re Wrong?

The look on Richard Sherman’s face near the end of the Super Bowl last night is priceless. You know the moment. The score was 28-24. Seattle had the ball, 2nd and goal from the 1 yard line with 24 seconds left on the clock. Score a touchdown (gain just 1 yard in 3 attempts) and they go down in history as repeat Super Bowl Champions. Running Back Marshawn Lynch had been his normal beast mode self and everyone in the stadium, including the New England Patriot’s Defense, was sure he was going to get the hand off. It would have been the right play call. Instead Pete Carroll dials up a quick slant pass that Patriot rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted to seal the win for New England.

It was an impressive defensive play to win the game. But what was more impressive was what Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks had to say about the play call after the game.

“It’s a miraculous play the kid made to get in front of the route…I told those guys, that’s my fault, totally.”
Pete Carroll, Coach of the Seattle Seahawks

Worst play call in Super Bowl history? Maybe. I’m not a Seattle fan and I still hated the call. But I loved Pete Carroll’s response.

Lead long enough and you’re going to make a wrong call. And everyone watching is going to see it. And what you do next matters. How a leader responds to failure is important. Perhaps even more important that the failed decision itself. Everyone is going to experience failure and setback, that’s not unique to you. Not everyone is going to rebound. And the defining difference doesn’t begin with a blind dogged determination to get back up but a personal ownership of the failure while you’re still down. Can you admit you were wrong? Can you learn to forget the failure but never forget the lesson? Your team isn’t looking for a perfect leader, that person doesn’t exist. But do want to follow an authentic leader.

Do you have the humility to admit it was your fault and then get back up and try again? Another NFL season will be here next year, and I imagine we’ll see Pete Carroll on the Seattle side lines coaching up his team trying to get them back to Super Bowl 50.

Will you get back up and try again?


Posted in Leadership