One of the bravest things anyone can do is put aside his/her pride and acknowledge making a mistake. This is especially true and important for leaders—of families, businesses and government. Parenting guides repeatedly tell parents that admitting mistakes is an important part of building trust with their children and helping their children’s emotional development. And, right now, it’s especially important for government leaders to admit that they have made a mistake…and allow the country to reopen.

Why is that?

If you haven’t seen it, Stanford University released a new study last week that said that the lockdowns have not only been ineffective at controlling the spread of COVID-19, but that they have been detrimental to our health and economy in ways far greater than the lives saved by the lockdowns.

Here is an exact quote from the study…

“In summary, we fail to find strong evidence supporting a role for more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the control of COVID in early 2020. We do not question the role of all public health interventions, or of coordinated communications about the epidemic, but we fail to find an additional benefit of stay-at-home orders and business closures. The data cannot fully exclude the possibility of some benefits. However, even if they exist, these benefits may not match the numerous harms of these aggressive measures. More targeted public health interventions that more effectively reduce transmissions may be important for future epidemic control without the harms of highly restrictive measures.”

Yes…you read that right. And this is not the first study to talk about the high price we have paid in collateral health and economic damage as a result of the lockdowns.

Since its start, the pandemic has been a political hot potato among government, media and individuals. COVID-19 came from out of the blue and caught the medical community off-guard. Early on, it was critical to circle the wagons and quarantine to stop the spread, but more importantly, to learn. It is miraculous what has been learned since the early months about how COVID-19 attacks the body…how and where it’s transmitted…the factors that place some people at more risk than others…and how to treat it.

Throughout that time, we all have borne witness to different theories and headlines and have been continually told to follow the science. Of course, scientists will tell you that science is an art and research’s early stages are always fraught with some hypotheses that hold up and others that are proven wrong. Those that are proven wrong are not mistakes—they are simply part of the learning.

The findings regarding COVID-19 are very clear as are the statistics about where and how the illness is being transmitted and who is at greatest risk. So why are many leaders refusing to follow the science in spite of their own declarations that we should do just that – follow the science? 

In the old days, every child was told from an early age that we learn from our mistakes. It’s one of the most important rules of life. If every effort we make results in success, then our problem-solving skills are not being challenged and we don’t need to dig deep to broaden our knowledge or skills to find alternatives. Ask any leaders, and they will tell you that their biggest growth came during times of challenge. Mistakes and hurdles are precious gifts we receive in life so that we rise to the next rung of growth. I will be the first to admit that I have made many mistakes throughout my life, including mistakes as leader of Bottom Line Inc.

And yet, somehow in 2021, this important lesson has been lost. Why have we become so intolerant of mistakes, even when sticking to our guns puts others at risk?

Pride? Fear? Arrogance? Yes to all. In the land of cancel culture and trial by social media, there’s not a public figure—or a private one—who wants to face the rebuke of public sentiment. After all, the best defense is a good offense. But here’s the problem—that arrogance doesn’t work. Eventually mistakes are unmasked and consequences result. A child hiding a failed test or an employee hiding a budgetary shortfall both will eventually be found out. And certainly, in the case of pandemic, the tally of COVID-19 deaths, economic hardship and non-COVID physical and emotional health problems are available for everyone to see.

Errors in health care cost lives. Depending on your source, anywhere from about 100,000 to 400,000 people die every year due to medical errors. How many more will die this year and in coming years due to the massive error of continuing COVID lockdowns?

Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast,  where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life.