When we loaded into our canoes, our self-appointed leader and self-proclaimed outdoor expert, “Jason” (not his real name), shot ahead in his boat by about half a mile. We knew our final pickup point was approximately an hour or two away, so after three hours of rowing, it became clear that something wasn’t right.
Because Jason was so far ahead, nobody could verbally call to him. After four hours of constant rowing, Jason finally pulled his canoe over. It took another hour for everyone to catch up. Once the group was together, Jason walked up with his head down. He didn’t know it, but he was about to provide the third (and arguably most important) lesson of the entire trip.
Jason, the ostensible outdoorsman of the group, looked us square in the eyes and told us he’d had his compass upside down! We were now a four-hour row south of where we were supposed to be.
Even though everyone saw red in that moment, we also recognized that Jason had admitted his mistake, owned up to it, and sincerely apologized. Though he felt terrible, he exemplified the lessons within Extreme Ownership, which helped to diffuse the situation. There were still some negative feelings—understandably—but had Jason made excuses, that bad situation would have been exponentially worse.