Buckle up. This is some next level communications coaching shit.
The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Those lies invariably create a habitual mindset where we begin to lie to those in our lives. Additionally, the communication which comes forth from us is inauthentic to our true nature as human BEINGS.
For we are not human DOINGS. So, when we lie to ourselves and judge ourselves (and everyone else) by what we DO or has been done to us (as opposed to what we BE,) the counterfeit emotional and corresponding behavior toll mounts.What we human beings actually BE (spiritually, internally, and eternally speaking) is righteous, perfect and sinless.
When we are not mindful of the truth of our spiritual well-being, we sojourn down an ill-conceived path of false-impressions. Ultimately, our communication and interactions become polluted by deception. Because if you are deceiving yourself, deceiving others is just a natural byproduct of the self-talk which repeats in a loop in your own head.
Furthermore, when we get caught in a lie, or a bonehead move, the deceitful web we have woven just becomes stickier and more difficult to extricate ourselves from.
A perfect case-in-point is what recently happened to Cincinnati-based sportscaster Thom Brennaman.
One of the reasons I love sports and politics so much is they are such wonderful opportunities to learn life lessons. Athletes and politicians, and those involved in covering them, are under the gun to perform, react, communicate, cope with winning and losing, all in real time—just like the rest of us do in everyday life. By becoming excellent observers, we can utilize how those people perform to learn and grow just by watching and analyzing them.
Brennaman, a longtime prominent broadcaster, was suspended last month by Fox Sports after he was heard using a homophobic slur on the air. He did not know his mic was “hot” when he referred to somewhere as one of “the fag capitals of the world”. It’s not clear where he was talking about. Regardless, after a momentary pause he went on to read a promotional script.
Twitter lit-up. Before Brennaman’s broadcast day was over, mid-game, when he was suspended. Then came one of the most surreal home run calls in baseball history in the middle of his apology and departure.
“I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I am deeply ashamed of. If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say, from the bottom of my heart, I am so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith—as here’s a drive into deep left field by Castellanos, it will be a home run, and so that’ll make it a 4–nothing ballgame—I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again. I don’t know if it’s going to be for the Reds. I don’t know if it’s going to be for my bosses at Fox. I want to apologize for the people who sign my paycheck. For the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody that I’ve offended here tonight: I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am. It never has been. And I’d like to think maybe I could have some people that that could back that up. I am very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness.”
He was then yanked off the air. The Reds baseball team suspended Brennaman indefinitely and Fox Sports removed him from his role as an NFL play-by-play man.
Marty Brennaman, retired Reds’ announcer and Thom’s dad, broadcast Cincinnati games for 46 years. This is how he responded to what his son had said. “What he (Thom) said is not a reflection of who Thom Brennaman is. I know that’s not him. But I also feel terrible for the people the comment offended,”
Both Junior and Senior Brennaman’s statements were made in the immediate aftermath of the on-air comment. Thom’s was literally right after it aired. Therefore, theoretically, they did not have much time to consider their remarks (even though as professional communicators it would have been wise to consider how to respond BEFORE the inevitable ill-conceived statement (which almost always come from public figures was made).
Still, they can be excused for not being aware of this dynamic and for not realizing in the heat-of-the-moment how what they said would make things worse. Not just for them but for the public at large. Both were very ineffective, very revealing and instructive for our purposes.
Then, check this out….
Last week in an interview with the New York Post, Brennaman said emphatically, “I have never used that word in my life”.
Does that sound credible? Does that even sound plausible? Nope. Likely it was just the continuation of his self-deception and the public manifestation of it.
“When you’re in a hole, stop digging,” – British politician and statesman Denis Healey. Solid life coaching advice, Denny!
Here are some of observations for you about the Brennaman incident to assist you. Please note:
1. As soon as Thom got called-out and began experiencing the pressure and implications of what he just had done, his on-air statement immediately moved to his professional future. “…I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again. I want to apologize for the people who sign my paycheck…”, revealing where his head was really at.
2. He also immediately broke-out the “I am a man of faith” and the “that is not who I am” cards. If those were true, he probably wouldn’t have said what he said. Again, probably another lie. Then he gave the always lame “if I hurt anyone” apology.
3. His dad, Marty, employed the same description of his son as “not who he is” and feeling bad for those offended. So ineffective.
Please understand, in no way do I condemn the Brennamans as bad or immoral people because of what they said. However, because it was so public, we can glean from them as examples to grow by for our own lives.
Here are some key takeaways for you.
1. If you lie to yourself about your own manifested shortcomings, prejudices, insecurities, sexuality, etc. being the true you — when push-comes-to-shove and the pressure is brought to bear, you will be generally deceitful in practice with others and specifically when confronted with a major fuck-up. (See Thom’s comment “I have NEVER used that word before” in the NY Post interview which came weeks after his on-air comments happened.) Never? Really?!! #LikelyALie
2. When we do or say something offensive, and when an apology is warranted, apologize because the thing was wrong. Period. NOT because some people may have been hurt by it. And DO NOT make it about yourself (“I feel terrible for the people the comment offended.”)
3. When you fuck-up, apologize WITHOUT excuse. This will speak to your sincerity, humility, confidence, and your desire to moving forward in practice. “Excuses are like assholes. Everyone’s got ’em and they all stink.”
4. Know this. The cover-up is ALWAYS worse than the transgression. (See Richard Nixon and Bill. Clinton for classic examples.)
5. If you have time to consider these things prior to proffering an apology, please do so and act upon them. Consider your words carefully!
6. You do well to consider all this before you mess-up. Because of the kind of immediate pressure Thom was experiencing in the aftermath of his faux pas, he didn’t have time to think about how to respond. So, he spoke from his discomforted soul, not from his peace-filled heart.
7. Prepare for the inevitable. You’re going to mess-up. We all do. But take heed and prepare you mindset beforehand so you can respond to take your lemons and make lemonade out of them. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
In contrast, in 2007 Don Imus, the now late and legendary broadcaster, joked about the appearance of the Rutgers’ Women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hos”. Imus was always a controversial public figure. Many thought he was a racist and homophobe. However, in this instance, after he was fired by MSNBC and his national radio network, he did not make an excuse or qualify his apology.
“It was completely inappropriate, thoughtless, and stupid”.
He then went on to meet privately with the young women at Rutgers and their parents to apologize in person. They forgave him.Imus went to be signed by another lucrative nationally syndicated radio network and FOX Business Network television contract. He continued to broadcast for many more years making hundreds of millions of dollars before retiring in 2018.
He passed away last year. However, he demonstrated that an imperfectly manifested man, with an imperfect history, can survive a major screw-up if you own your shit, are truthful with yourself and others about it, and apologize because it was wrong on its face—not because it offended some people.
Will Thom Brennaman be able to come back the way Imus did? I certainly hope so, but I doubt it.
However, like Imus, you can come back, too. But it would be best to consider these things before your mistaken statements or actions are underway, not DURING them.
Then you will be better equipped to walk through a crisis of conscience with humility, dignity, and with the possibility of everyone involved coming out the other side better for the experience.