Yesterday I wrote a post over at my information security blog about famed hacker Kevin Mitnick and how he is conducting himself in the limelight. Is he redeeming himself after a life of crime?
That’s the point a lot of people seem to be debating. Should a man or woman who has made mistakes in life apologize in every interview, at every conference, behind every closed door?
I’m reminded of that scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where Indiana Jones tells Marion Ravenwood that he can only say he’s sorry so many times. “Well say it again anyway!” she says as she slams down a tray full of shot glasses. In the same scene, she notes that everyone’s sorry for something.
We are. I’m sorry I wasted so many years hiding in my room because of fear and anxiety. I’m sorry I nearly destroyed what was left of my health with countless binges. I’m sorry I wasn’t there more when my best friend was headed toward suicide. I’m sorry I can’t get along with my mother.
We’re all sorry for something.
But when do you reach the point where you need to make your amends and get on with life? I have my half-baked theories.
In Mitnick’s case, he did his crimes and served his time. He has used his hacking skills for good in recent years. I know many people in the security community who consider him a friend.
I don’t think he needs to say he’s sorry anymore. Using his skills for the greater good is good enough to me. And as for his conduct in promoting his book, “Ghost in the Wires,” I don’t mind. If you write something, your goal is to have as many people read it as possible. I can be shameless in proliferating this blog, but I don’t apologize. I don’t write it so it’ll sit there on the Internet being read by five people a year. You can’t be useful to people if they don’t know you’re there.
Writing this thing is partly my way of paying it forward. It’s a lot more useful than repeatedly telling everyone I’m sorry for the way I used to be. After awhile, the apologies ring hollow unless they’re backed by real change.
When you change, apologies become less necessary.
If you have to keep apologizing, then you probably still have some behaviors to change.
That’s what I’ve learned about myself, at least.