Lessons From Ryan Lochte & His $1 Million Apology

Lessons From Ryan Lochte & His $1 Million Apology

Lessons From Ryan Lochte & His $1 Million Apology

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the lessons learned from Ryan Lochte and his $1 million apology.

First a quick update:

“Are You A Real Friend?”
Many people make claim to being ‘friends’ with famous people as a way to promote themselves and perpetuate the myth of their own significance. So, what is a friend and what is friendship? Aristotle, the Greek philosopher referenced three kinds of friendship and defined a friend as… 

“Men Are Not Sexually Monogamous – Cheating & Lack Of Self-Control” 
Men, like other animals can be socially monogamous; can they, though be sexually monogamous? Self-control and conscious choices can override biological impluses. Watch the video! 

Now, let’s talk about the lessons learned from Ryan Lochte and his $1 million apology.

Ryan Steven Lochte is a 12-time US Olympic medalist swimmer (six gold, three silver, three bronze), placing him second in swimming behind Michael Phelps. He has won a total of 90 medals in major international competitions.

During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, Lochte claimed he and three fellow US swimmers had been had been pulled over and robbed by armed robbers in police uniform while in Rio de Janeiro. It became an international story and because Lochte claimed that the robbers were wearing police badges and they had put a gun to his head, the Brazilian officials investigated. When the truth came out, it was revealed that Lochte and his fellow swimmers had lied – their individual retelling of their stories didn’t even match up with each other.

Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro concluded that the athletes had not been not robbed, but instead they had been intoxicated and had vandalized a gas station and urinated on the property, claiming that they they broke a soap dispenser in the bathroom, damaged a door, tore down a sign and urinated around the premises. In response, security guards tried to hold them while demanding payment for the damage. The swimmers handed over about $51 US.

A few days after returning to the US, Lochte posted an apology on Instagram, saying “I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend—for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that morning.” As I will explain shortly, Lochte’s apology fell so far short (as did his subsequent comments, explanation and second apology on national television) that Lochte lost 4 sponsorship deals worth about $1 million US. Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Gentle Hair Removal and mattress maker Airweave ended their relationship with Ryan Lochte.

It was not the incident of drunken vandalism or the lying thereafter that cost Lochte $1 million. No. It was his incomplete, insincere apology that cost him $1 million.

Lochte never admitted that he actually lied; instead he said he had not carefully expressed his communication (his story) and simply said that he had exaggerated the story.

It is true that Lochte expressed remorse, although it took too long to do that and by then the public and his sponsors had changed their image and perception of him:

“It hurt. I let my team down. I don’t want them to think I left them and left them dry … I just wanted to make sure they were home safe before I came out and talked. I’m embarrassed for myself, my family and especially those guys…Brazil doesn’t deserve that. I am sorry that my immaturity caused all this ruckus.”

So what was missing from Lochte’s apology?
What did he leave out?

A real, sincere and effective apology consists of 7 steps:

1. Admit The Mistake
Openly admit the mistake and state the facts

2. Express Remorse
Say ‘I am sorry’ or ‘I regret what I did’

3. Acknowledge The Impact
Acknowledge how your actions affected others (the impact of the mistake and wrongdoing); this involves really thinking about the consequences of your behavior and thus, leads to real remorse and compassion for the victims of your actions.

4. Explain Why
This is not the same as a justification or an excuse. Explain what was happening in your life at that time or moment which contributed to the bad action ( fear, anger, stress, alcohol, immaturity, selfishness, etc.) In Lochte’s case it would be ‘we were drunk, immature and irresponsible…we were selfish, thought only of instant gratification and forgot who we were representing…’

5. Reinforce the Relationship
State how important the other person or the relationship is to you

6. Change Behavior
Acknowledging where you went wrong, you explain what you learned and what action you will take to never let this happen again

7. Make Amends
Offer to make it up to the people you let down and/or suggest how you might make it up to those people affected. Ask for forgiveness.

We are all human beings; we all make mistakes and are imperfect. Lochte is imperfect like the rest of us; yes, he was also immature and irresponsible (and he has been in trouble with the police before – urinating in public and disorderly conduct.)
Lochte’s apology failed to reveal what he learned from the incident and what he would do differently.
He failed to fully express and identify what he did wrong – the actual incident at the gas station, the lying and fabrication to the media, the lying days after and the failure to properly represent his country.
He never asked for forgiveness.

The complete apology as listed above in the 7 steps also critically involves sincerity and humility. You cannot apologize from the heart if you are not willing to dissolve the ego, be humble and be willing to accept the consequences of your mistake or wrongdoing. The latter is also known as penance. Lochte could have offered to do some form of community service.

Ryan Lochte’s failure to offer a real apology cost him 4 major sponsorship deals, about $1 million and possibly his future in swimming. For some people the failure to effectively apologize can cost more than a business deal, it can cost a relationship or a marriage.

To whom do you need to apologize?

If you need assistance to heal a relationship, ask for forgiveness or forgive yourself, book a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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