A new season of Mad Men is in full swing, and once again, I continue to find themes that translate from a 1960s fictional advertising agency to a new millennium legal industry (for more posts, click here). Our protagonist Don Draper was a bad boy last season. Getting drunk at the wrong time. Sleeping with the wrong wife (the neighbor’s). Telling his truth at the wrong time. He sacrificed his employees trust, and his partners faith, for his own selfish and self-centered reasons. Oh, sure, at the time Don surely thought he was right and justified to tell the truth. But he didn’t pause. He didn’t temper it against, “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” Don was wrong because his truth, at that moment, wasn’t necessary. It was selfish and self-centered. Oh, Don. How I relate to you. You see, dear readers, I have a secret of my own. I too can be consumed by my ego, as well as my self-centered and selfish impulses. I can say things out of turn that hurt others, including myself, all under the guise of “truth.” But when I pause, reflect, find that moment of self-awareness … when I find my true truth, I have to not only apologize for my actions, but I have to mend my ways. And how Don did that last night was masterful.
- He opened up and humbled himself to his daughter and wife.
- He accepted the consequences of his actions.
- He humbled himself in the office where he was once the named partner.
- He accepted his penance with a simple, “Okay.”
- He did not argue.
- He did not justify.
- He did not beg.
- He left his ego at the door.
As a leader, Don now has to rebuild the trust of his partners, his team, his friends, and his family. Each will take a different path. But if he stays the course, Don will hopefully rebuild trust where it can be. He can, without ego, let go where he cannot. And he can move forward, a changed man, either way.