A key characteristic of a good leader is one’s ability to put pride aside and admit one’s own mistakes.
That’s exactly what Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, did Wednesday when he shared with the social media masses a gaffe he committed while attending President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address.
Looking at the photos that emerged from the Trump’s address, Gen. Lengyel made an observation that may still be contributing to some internal groaning on his part.
He wore his ribbon rack upside-down.
The general took to both Twitter and Facebook to proactively highlight the slip-up.
“I missed it... Plain and simple," Gen. Lengyel wrote. "I hope this is a lesson for everyone who wears the uniform, and really for anyone... They put erasers on pencils for a reason. When you make a mistake or miss a detail, own it and move on.”
Users on all platforms were quick to applaud the general for his admission.
Many offered the four-star some lighthearted encouragement.
Former Ranger and current UFC fighter, Tim Kennedy, for example, shrugged off the mistake with some friendly jabs at the Air Force.
And there’s always a Maverick anecdote for every scenario.
Some chimed in with awkward admissions of their own.
No matter the minimal severity of the slip-up, responses to the general’s admission were universally positive.
It’s somewhat encouraging that amidst an online world of instantaneous judgement and cutthroat responses to human mistakes, owning up to one’s own faults — however minor they may be — can still elicit a forgiving public.
Well done, sir.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.