son sorry doesn't win ballgames

Many years ago, when I still had bounce in my legs and ran with the best of them, I played college football. When I was a freshman on the team, one of my friends and teammates told us a story about when, as a high school player, he had been pulled from a game after making a big bonehead mistake that had let the other team score.

In his recounting of this event he told us how, as he trotted off the field, he stopped next to the coach and said he was sorry. The coach then glared angrily at him. Grabbed his facemask and yanked it so his face was inches from his own. Then he said the line that our college team would repeat over and over again on our way to winning two conference championships: “Son, sorry doesn’t win ballgames!”

I was reminded of this line yesterday as a CEO of a startup that I was trying to help kept saying he was sorry. He said he was sorry when he changed the agreed upon terms and conditions in a contract at the last minute. He said he was sorry when the contract was a month late getting to the prospect. He said he was sorry when what could have been his first deal fell through because of all his inattentiveness and lack of preparedness with regard to this contract. And this is when that old college football line popped into my head – “Son, sorry doesn’t win ballgames”. And in this case, I added one more phrase, “or help you or your sales team close deals.”

In the contact game of entrepreneurship and startups, this line is apropos. It is one young startup CEO’s should remember. Why? Because you don’t want to be the one saying you are sorry when things blowup because of your lack of preparedness or inattentiveness. Because saying you are sorry does not win ballgames or in the game of entrepreneurship help you or your team win deals.” Entrepreneurship is a contact game and when you make bonehead mistakes, they will cost you; sometimes more than you can afford.

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