I am a living, breathing example of the adage you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your success. That’s one of the great things about being involved with young people; mentoring, teaching, you get lots of do-overs and many chances to look back and see what works, what didn’t, and how you can improve. It’s all about learning.
Also along the way we have pointed out that it is about the people and the places more than the things…another lesson we pick up maybe as we get older. One of those people I have learned a great deal from in a relatively short period of time is Dr. Harvey Schiller. HWS has had a storied career as Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, head of YES Network and Turner Sports, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Brigadier General in the Air Force, Chairman of America’s Cup and on and on. However with all the titles and the stories and connections one thing always came through; integrity tied to the truth gets you to great places where you sometimes you never thought you could get to. He posted a great line on Facebook this Saturday morning.
“If you tell the truth, you’ll remember what you said.”
There has been a lot written about the value of telling the truth tied to everyone from Ryan Lochte and Donald Trump and so many others recently. I work in an industry that is based on spin, and often say, usually jokingly, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. However helping to massage messages, or telling a good story (an invaluable trait these days in building a personal brand) can never be confused with lying and then using half-truths to hope things go away.
We live in a world where if you are a public persona in any way shape or form, you cannot hide. It is the world we live in, and many thrive in that environment. You can fool people with spin to a point, but when it comes to facts and telling the truth, especially in a very public environment, the truth will eventually come out. You have to be authentic and people will give you a pass…and if you get caught, own up to it smartly, quickly and effectively and move on. The sooner the better. There was a great example of owning up and moving on last December with the comedian Steve Harvey.
For those who don’t remember, and maybe it’s because he did the right thing right away, but the talk show host, comedian, all around media personality flubbed the announcement of the winner of Miss Universe live on FOX, announcing that Miss Columbia, Ariadna Gutierrez, had taken the title when in fact, it was Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. A simple misread of a printed card sent the social world into a tizzy just before 10 PM eastern time in the United States, and in reality gave the pageant more exposure than it would have gotten had the event gone off without a hitch. Harvey quickly became the brunt of jokes and endless memes that have gone on for more than 24 hours. What did he do? Exactly what anyone in a crisis like that should have done.
Take a second, stay calm, realize the mistake, DON’T LIE and move on.
Harvey could have easily spun the issue off to others, misread cards, a poor system of information, inadequate handling. Nope. He stayed on stage, even showed the world on the card that he had made the mistake, apologized and wrapped the show with the actual winner. It took seconds to do, and it resonated with millions.
It seems pretty simple and basic, but in a world where thousands will jump on the bandwagon, not owning up can seem like the simplest way out, when in reality it lengthens the news cycle and kills credibility. By taking control, the host of “Family Feud” showed the world, and his millions of fans, true character in a crisis. He restored order quickly, diffused the situation, and had everyone move on.
Did it end in a second? No. Was the clip be replayed thousands of times? Sure, that’s the digital world we live in today. Could it have been handled any better by someone in a live situation? No way. Not that he needed it, but Harvey probably gained more casual fans, and got himself some bigger gigs should he want then, by standing up and controlling a difficult situation, not letting the situation control him. He could have walked off and hid and let others take the blow. Instead he restored the order and brought great credibility to a situation where chaos could have reigned.
Simple rule to live by. One we are taught hopefully at an early age and one that again proves that in the age we are in today, you can’t hide or think you can outsmart people when the truth is the best message.
Given all that we have going on in the world, the Lochte silliness is small potatoes and it’s getting time to move on. In the end he will listen or not too the people around him, and whether or not he learns and wants to change is his decision. What we should learn from once again is that no matter how big or how small, the truth, I’m sorry, and being sincere rules the day.
Well done. Mr. Harvey back then. Well said as always Dr. Schiller.