Jackie Gingrich Cushman

"Let me say it as clearly and succinctly as I can: we screwed up," Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele wrote in his new book, "RightNow: A 12- Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda" (Regnery Publishing, 2010).

Steele is extremely courageous and exactly right.

Few people like to admit mistakes -- they see it as a sign of weakness.

Instead, it can be empowering and energizing.

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Steele's acknowledgment could translate into increased Republican Party credibility, according to one expert. "In isolation, perhaps little," said Stuart Sheldon, resident of the Atlanta division of Escalate: An Experiential & Word-Of-Mouth marketing agency. "As part of a sustained conversation over time, perhaps a great deal."

Part of growing up is realizing we make mistakes -- they should be addressed as rapidly as possible. This allows one to move forward rather than cover up and make excuses.

Acknowledge, Own and Address. When you find you have made a mistake: ? Acknowledge it (admit it happened), ? Own it (take responsibility) and Address it (make it ?right).

This morning, our children went back to school after two weeks off. The goal we set at dinner last night was for them to leave at 7:20 this morning.

When I woke up at 7:05 this morning, I knew I had made a mistake. No alarm.

My husband began breakfast while I woke up the children. They asked me what happened, and I acknowledged and owned the mistake (I had forgotten to set the alarm).

No one became upset, and we addressed it by working together and readjusting out schedule. Let's just say that, instead of leaving the house with a clean kitchen and made beds, I will be addressing the cleanup later today.

While this example might be simple, it lays out an effective process that is transparent and authentic, and focuses energy on addressing and moving forward.

The American people crave transparency and authenticity, and we certainly need to focus our limited energy on moving forward.

Last year began with "hope" and "change we can believe in." It turned into a year of the Obama administration attempting to change what we believe.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.