Patrice Motsepe, Hunter Biden, Felicia Sonmez: Situations of poor judgment and the rest of us

Poor judgment is a universal affliction. That is, it affects everyone from time to time. Poor judgment may yield mild consequences or grievous harm. Poor judgment may cause small losses or take a heavy toll. Some poor judgments may cause revocable and reversible outcomes while others may cause irrevocable and irreversible outcomes.

Mentioning the cases of South African Billionaire, Patrice Motsepe, Hunter Biden or Washington Post political reporter Felicia Sonmez in this post is only for illustrative purposes.

So we hear that in his moment of poor judgment, Patrice Motsepe told United States President at the World Economic Forum in Davos recently that ‘Africa loves him.’ He was utterly convinced about the accuracy of his view when he spoke to President Trump but following rebuttals from fellow South Africans that he wasn’t speaking for them or the rest of the continent for that matter, he capitulated by apologising for his moment of ‘poor judgment.’

Not many people know that one of the roots of President Trump’s current impeachment trial can be traced to Hunter Biden’s moment of poor judgment. He accepted to serve on the of Board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company whose owner was under investigation for money laundering during the administration of President Barack Obama, whom his father, Joe Biden had served as Vice President. Those who were looking for reasons to ‘hang’ his father’s presidential ambition saw his decision to serve on Burisma’s board as abuse of political privileges and moved to ‘milk the most of it.’ Hunter has since admitted his action was one of poor judgment.

Felicia Sonmez, a political reporter with the Washington Post invited the wrath of many grieving fans of late basketball icon, Kobe Bryant, when she tweeted a link to a story about a rape allegation against him. One of her editors called her decision one of poor judgment.

Not mentioning that these cases are included only for illustrative purposes would itself have become poor judgment on my part.

Exactly how does one mitigate the effect of poor judgment. Long and short answer: it depends! But the following elements should be in the mix:

  • Admission of poor judgment/regret
  • Comprehensive assessment of the impact of the poor judgment, including immediate impact and far-reaching impact; the obvious and not-so-obvious
  • Creative restitution
  • Effective management of impact, in the short and long term
  • Seeking to exceed expectations not just to match it.
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