"It's the First Mistake of my Life - Okay?"

April 2023

I was on the bus ride home from school in 7th grade one afternoon, when the bus driver missed a kid’s stop.

The rowdy crowd on the bus was ruthless, shouting at her as she drove right on by.

I will never forget what she said next.

“Knock it off! It’s the first mistake of my life, OKAY?”

Can you imagine? Everyone on the bus erupted!

FYI: Coaching is Not a Mistake-Free Profession (Like School Bus Driving)

The nature of coaching is that it’s often messy.

You have two human beings working on life’s biggest issues with conditioning, judgments, egos, bias, illusions and suffering all thrown into the mix.

I’ve made mistakes as a coach. I’ve missed the mark with my clients.

* Small mistakes - like getting time zones mixed up.

* Medium mistakes - like sending an email meant for one person to another person.

* And bigger mistakes - like not really seeing or hearing my client in the way that was needed at the time.

And each misstep was truly, madly, deeply a wonderful opportunity within the coaching container for me and for my client.

Even though it didn’t feel that way at the time. At the time it felt awful.

And unlike the bus driver, when we make mistakes as coaches - whether it’s the first time in our lives or the 1,000th time - we can own it.

We can always clean up split milk.

Apologies 101: How to Apologize to Anyone, Including Your Clients

* Start with the magic 3.5 words - I’m so sorry.

* Share what your intention was (since it wasn’t to hurt or upset the person) and reiterate how you missed the mark on that.

* Say what you’ll do moving forward.

Genuine and heartfelt apologies invite deeper intimacy, humanity and transparency into the coaching container.

This is a good thing!

And you, coach, get to lead!

What’s Your Relationship Like With Apologies?

  • Did you receive genuine and loving apologies growing up?
  • How were apologies given to you? What was modeled in your home?
  • What is it like for you to apologize today? Is there ease? Resistance?

How did you typically receive apologies today? Are you open? Forgiving?

I’ve received two memorable and beautiful apologies from coaches I’ve worked with.

Both took me by surprise.

I’m used to only getting an apology after putting up a good fight and fully defending and justifying myself.

These apologies came swiftly and easily. They were filled with love and grace.

They showed me how to apologize and they removed the stigma of apologizing.

An apology can be a gift on many levels.

No Longer Afraid to Get It Wrong

I used to worry about saying the wrong thing to a client or prospective client.

I thought I had to be the smart and wise one all the time, with all the correct answers. There was no room for mistakes.

Sounds a lot like driving a bus filled with moody middle schoolers, right?

But now, I love saying something wrong.


Because I’ve seen time and time again how helpful this can actually be when the energy behind it is curious and unattached.

For example . . .

I throw something out there for consideration.

It doesn’t land. It’s “wrong.”

But it’s a stepping stone that helps my client arrive at what is true.

The client says, No, it’s not like that. It’s like this …

And that clarity is so beautiful.

Risk getting it wrong so your client can arrive at what's right.

This is the co-creation process and what turns that mess into a masterpiece.

Cheering for you and your next apology!



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