What did I learn from pulling off the crime of the century?
Facing the Music
I have made a lot of mistakes. Some of them were actually quite spectacular. And while formal training, my Masters, and supplementary reading have taught me the theory of leadership, my mistakes have taught me more than I care to admit.
My first leadership lesson was when I was not much more than six or seven. I was a voracious reader devouring comics, magazines, books about superheroes and war stories – the best of all were Hardy Boys books. I wanted to read every Hardy Boys story, every one of them. One day I went into the drugstore in our little farming village and saw a Hardy Boys book I didn’t have. I didn’t have the money for it. So, I slipped it under my shirt and walked out. You can say many things about that seemingly small act; but mainly, it was stealing.
I got home and, of course, got busted. A shiny new hard cover book just didn’t show up in our house without everyone knowing about it. I was taken back to the drugstore to turn myself into the storeowner. My Dad waited outside of the store while I went in. I managed to get to the bookrack, slipped the stolen book back where it belonged and left. Dad asked if I talked to the owner, and with my backside on my mind, told him the truth.
I was turned around on the spot to “face the music”. I admitted my crime and apologized. To my shock I was only slightly admonished. More importantly, I was thanked for admitting my crime, returning the book, apologizing, and being “a man”.
The trip back home was my equivalent of walking the green mile. I was sure I was heading to the gallows. But it was over and looking back now, I cannot recall ever having heard of the incident again.
Besides ‘thou shall not steal’ & ‘admit your mistakes’, my one true lesson? … When it’s over and dealt with … it’s over.