Apologies, in advance, for the graphic nature of the following story.
However, the severity of these incidents is at the heart of the purpose of this post.
In March 2015, 33-year-old Jose Antonio Santiago was driving a Saab sedan shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania. When he was questioned about an accident that happened at that time on the highway on which he was driving, Santiago said, “I didn’t hit anyone. I would’ve stopped. I’m not a bad person.”
Court records show a different story, however. Not only had Santiago hit and killed 62-year-old Anna Lewis, the severity of the crash literally tore her body in half, and her “upper torso entered the vehicle and ended up on the floor of Santiago’s passenger seat.”
According to Leigh Valley Live, after striking the victim, “Santiago continued north on Airport Road and then turned right onto Catasauqua Road. Lewis’ upper torso was still on the passenger-side floor when Pennsylvania State Police found his car parked on Cloverdale Road in Bethlehem about an hour-and-a-half after the deadly wreck.”
- But, hey — he doesn’t think he’s a bad person or anything.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly read numerous accounts of Brock Turner, the convicted rapist from Stanford. He was caught in the act and detained by two Swedish students who happened upon the scene. Several reports allege that he has yet to take full responsibility for his actions. His dad wrote that the conviction was a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.”
His father added, “He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile.” I wonder if his victim ever will be that way again, either, because of Turner’s actions.
- I don’t think Brock Turner — or his father — have come to grips with the fact that he did something horribly wrong.
These are obviously HIGHLY extreme examples. My assumption is that manslaughter or rape are not part of the wrongs of any of our collective pasts, God forbid. And, please don’t misunderstand — I am NOT trying to trivialize these vile acts by using them in this post about business and leadership.
However, I hope to use these horrific examples to suggest that if someone has a hard time admitting blame for appalling acts such as these — perhaps it becomes a little easier to understand why it is so difficult for a customer or employee to be open, honest, and willing to accept fault. If someone is unwilling to admit they did something big (even when caught “red-handed”), why would we assume that they would take personal responsibility for something much, much smaller?
Yes, I understand there are legalities to saying you did something wrong when talking about criminal charges — as opposed to failing in client service or stealing some supplies from the company. However, saying “I’m not a bad person” or “a steep price for 20 minutes of action” goes well beyond that technicality in these cases.
The critical point here is this: seldom does anyone believe they are in the wrong. (Especially at first…)
Maturity is grounded in the willingness to admit mistakes and fault, as well as owning the process that it will take to resolve and heal the problem to the best of our ability.
I’m working on that in my own business and life right now. And, I hope you are, too.
- By the way — if you thought someone else would benefit from reading this…please share it.
- But, if you thought it did not apply to you in any manner whatsoever…maybe you’d better read this again.