Leadership

Why Tim Tebow says you should never be afraid to apologize

Former NFL player Tim Tebow believes you should never be afraid to apologize.

In fact, the now-aspiring New York Met contends that saying sorry shows strength.

"I think that there's this sense that real leaders don't apologize," he says in a wide-ranging interview with CNBC contributor Suzy Welch. "I just think it's ridiculous."

The former football player has a track record of owning up to his mistakes. In 2008, while playing football at the University of Florida, Tebow gave a public apology that was seen as controversial by many sports enthusiasts.

After a shocking 31-30 home loss to the University of Mississippi that ended the Florida Gators' undefeated season, Tebow delivered an emotional apology to fans and teammates for his performance.

"To the fans and everybody in Gator Nation," he said at a press conference, "I'm sorry. Extremely sorry."

Fighting back tears, Tebow then pledged to make up for his team's stunning defeat. "You will have never seen any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of this season," he said.

The Gators went on to beat the Oklahoma Sooners 24-14, winning their second national championship in three years.

Dubbed "The Promise," Tebow's speech is still inspiring Gators players and was even lauded by former President Barack Obama during the team's visit to the White House.

"That's the kind of leadership that you want to see from all our young people," Obama said. "Taking responsibility, challenging yourself and others, rising to the moment."

In his interview with Welch, Tebow said most people are too full of pride to apologize.

Tim Tebow
Getty Images

"It's amazing the relief and the guilt that's taken off when we do learn to apologize and say, 'I'm wrong. I'm sorry. I didn't handle that right,'" Tebow said.

He adds that an apology doesn't have to be grandiose or televised like his was. Instead, it can be a simple "I'm sorry" to family members, friends or even co-workers.

This ability to admit wrongdoing is a "huge quality" that strong leaders possess, says Tebow, because they realize that they aren't perfect.

"To be able to say [sorry]," he says, "it shows people that you're humble, it shows people that you care and it shows people that you are not above them."

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