This is the “U” installment of the leadership series, “Alphabet for Leaders.”

During my college days I turned my car in front of another car. The front of the other guy’s car and the right rear side of my Datsun were demolished. (Datsun became Nissan) I received a ticket for the accident. Thankfully no-one was injured.

One time, years ago, I used my public position to attack another person. I betrayed a public trust. It wasn’t one of my proudest moments.

When our children were at home, I’d get frustrated about something and yell. One time my wife told me our home was more peaceful when I wasn’t in it. Ouch!

One summer, not long ago, my wife and I got in an argument. The windows in our home were opened when I yelled, “you’re nuts.” I’m convinced the neighbors still think I’m the one that’s nuts.

I wish life had an undo button.

I used to teach Microsoft Office classes for the college where I work. You should have seen the look of relief come over students when I showed them the undo button. Let’s face it, the undo button rocks.

Sadly, life isn’t like Microsoft Office. It doesn’t have an undo button. If it did, I’d undo the things I just listed and many more. How about you?

What to do when there’s no undo?

When neglect hurts others, apologize. When arrogance or anger come out, say, “I was wrong.” Look an offended party in the eye and say, “Will you forgive me?”

Don’t make excuses. Own the offense and say, “I’m sorry.”

Don’t say, “I’m sorry I hurt you.” Name the thing you did that hurt another and ask forgiveness.

Don’t excuse what you did with what they did. Say, “I was wrong.”

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”  Paul Boese


While writing this, I began thinking that an undo button might not be a good thing. Perhaps, at least in some cases, an apology does more than an undo. What do you think?

What other “U” words for leaders can you offer?