These are mistakes that fall into the unforgivable sin category due to the magnitude of damage. Even if the most well-intentioned and honest Soldier in your unit makes one of these mistakes, there is nothing he can do to reduce the magnitude of the problem. Be wary of the Soldier who tells you:
“I thought you said honest mistakes were okay. We are supposed to learn from them. I learned from this and will not allow it to happen again.”
Do not fall for this twisting of the truth. Individuals who commit unforgivable sins and then use this approach further show their lack of integrity by failing to accept responsibility for their actions or by placing the blame on others. Worse yet, the Soldier in the example above is playing off your own sense of integrity. Handle individuals such as these in the firmest manner possible.
A balanced perspective
So what is the purpose of discussing honest mistakes and unforgivable sins? A well-rounded leader examines every incident from two perspectives: Firstly as a leader charged with enforcing standards and maintaining discipline and secondly as an individual who can empathize with the Soldier. It could have been you in the Soldier’s shoes–you were inexperienced once. You may even be in his position sometime in the future. This is a balancing act and the goal is to find the sweet spot.