Belfast Telegraph

Why it takes a real man like Brad to admit to his mistakes

By Nuala McKeeever

You gotta feel sorry for the person behind the “human error” which saw an ITV documentary show footage it claimed had been shot by the IRA of its members trying to shoot down a British Army helicopter, in 1988.

Turns out it was actually a clip from a computer game called Arma 2. Ooops!

Which of us hasn’t, at some time in our life, made a decision that has backfired on us later? I know I have.

This last week has seen the disgraced business tycoon, Asil Nadir, charged with stealing £150m from his Polly Peck empire. The scandal happened over 20 years ago. At the time, I was a junior researcher in a media outlet. The story broke just as we were about to go on air. I’d heard of Polly Peck as a name of expensive tights.

I suggested reporting it, but was told that because the boss had never heard of the man and didn’t think the company was important, we wouldn’t go for it. The rule, the boss said to me, is “If I haven’t heard of it, I doubt most other people will have.”

It became one of the biggest stories of the year and we could have been first to break it. Ooops.

But it was a genuine mistake, no-one was hurt and really, in the great scheme of things, who cared anyway?

I was thinking back to those days this week when Asil Nadir hit the news again. There don’t seem to be many figures, in the public world at least, who are quick to say, “Yep, I made a mistake, it’s a fair cop, give me the consequences.”

All those loaded men (and, I presume, women, but y’don’t hear about the women too much) who ran the banks and the global companies that went belly-up. Almost to a man, justifying, wheedling, making excuses for their behaviour.

See, I don’t think we mind when people genuinely make mistakes. What we do dislike is when someone deliberately behaves immorally or uncaringly and then either dresses it up as a mistake or worse, gives us the two fingers with a “So what?” response.

I grew up thinking that those who got to the “top” in the world must somehow be “better”, more deserving people. Boy, I got THAT wrong! The older I get, the more I realise that there isn’t some super tribe of human beings who know so much more than I do and have it all worked out. No-one has it all worked out. And the past few years have shown that those at the top seem, in large part, to be there because they’ve simply been better at being greedy.

I feel sorry for anyone who makes a mistake. I admire anyone who can admit to failing. Brad Pitt spoke this week about battling depression in the 90s. It’s quite something to hear a man at the top of his game admit that he hadn’t a clue what life was for and he was lost for a while.

That’s the real mark of an admirable person. Not getting it right all the time. Not never failing. Not getting away with it by covering up.

Not having it all at others’ expense. Just trying to do the “right” thing and taking it on the chin when it doesn’t work out.

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