What can students learn from the Gilbert Arenas gun scandal? (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

When you mess up, fess up! Don’t joke about it…

What can students entering the workforce learn from Gilbert Arenas, the Washington Wizards’ NBA star who admitted to storing firearms in his locker room at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.?

Well, first of all, you can learn that it’s not a good idea to bring guns to work.  Hopefully, you already knew that though!

On a more serious note, the main lesson to be learned here is that when you make a mistake at work, you need to handle it the right way.

The picture to the right was taken 2 weeks after the Washington Post reported the “gun incident,” and it shows Gilbert in a huddle with his teammates, mocking the incident and laughing, while pretending his hands were guns.

Unlike Gilbert and his teammates, the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, didn’t find this image very funny, and Gilbert was promptly suspended for the rest of the NBA season, a move that resulted in Gilbert losing over $10 million in salary. 

Since then, Gilbert has also lost endorsement deals, been sentenced to time in a halfway house, and lost a lot of respect from fans across the world.  Although unlikely, it is also possible that his entire contract could be voided by the Wizards (a deal worth over $100 million).

Had he owned up to his mistake right away, been contrite, and used the situation as an opportunity to improve himself,  his financial loss, punishment, and fall-out with fans would have been much less severe.

When you are in the workplace, and you make a mistake, you have 2 choices.  You can either joke about what you did and try to pretend it was not big deal or you can own up to it, apologize, take responsibility, and vow to get better.  When you mess up, fess up, and do it right away.  You’ll be able to move on much more easily!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises

College Speaker and Career Expert for Gen Y




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