So, I live in a state that is well-known for its “fire season”. Years of drought and the failure to keep yards and forest areas clear of dry fire spreading brush have made California vulnerable each year to massive wild fires. The sad reality is we can prevent some of these fires from becoming bigger fires with working hard upfront and being diligent.

To say I was surprised this past week when the small fire created by Ryan Lochte suddenly became an inferno is an understatement. For those that have been living under a fire-resistant blanket for the past week, here’s what happened —

To fast-forward since we are not a news agency – Lochte and three of his U.S. Swim Team compadres went out for a night to blow off steam after months of intense training and then things went South. Lochte and the others went with an embellished story about being robbed at gunpoint. Even Ryan’s mother and father chimed in. This became a thing! But, then it became an even bigger thing – check out #LochteGate on Twitter! The Brazilian government became involved, witnesses and video evidence was found, which isn’t hard to find in today’s age of close-circuit video, cell phones, cameras, etc.

Most athletes, actors and those in the public eye have a team, or at least one person, to help them prepare for interviews, manage crisis or anything else life throws at them. Team Lochte failed, they lied, they weren’t ready, the message kept changing and they waited too long to set up the “apology interview” with Matt Lauer. Three strikes and you’re out! Perhaps, if the team handled this differently SPEEDO wouldn’t have cancelled his endorsement agreement –

The athletes lied to cover up their moment of stupidity. Reputations and endorsements were lost, but even more hurtful, they lost trust! They lost the trust of the fans, coaches, and teammates and their lies overshadowed an amazing Olympics by U.S. athletes.

Instead of owning it, the lies grew and grew, thus creating a firestorm. The first steps should of have been to “own it”- admit what you did. People will have an easier time getting over something if they feel like you’ve come clean. To keep the lies going doesn’t help your fans, teammates, and the world come together and forget. Heck, even Alex Rodrigues got a warm send off from New York Yankees fans, Major League Baseball have learned to love Mark McGuire again.

The point is – be upfront, admit it, be contrite, devise a plan to make things right, and take your medicine and people will learn to love you again. Now back to clearing my yard, I don’t want any firestorms happening on my watch.