Are you old enough to remember the "New Coke" fiasco? It was 25 years ago, April of 1985, that arguably the most revered name in American business and product merchandising made a monumental and embarrassing mistake. (For more on the "celebration," check out!)

The Coca-Cola Company had done its homework. Blind taste tests across the United States had validated the new formula and flavor. Tested not only against rival Pepsi but "old" Coca-Cola as well, New Coke was rated superior. So the company began an advertising blitz, introduced the new-fangled version of its lead product, and waited for the outcome with high hopes. What a disaster!

There was an initial sales jump brought about by the ad campaign and the customer curiosity it created. If it was so good, my wife and I wanted to taste it. Yuk! We didn't like it. And we wondered aloud whether our dislike was of the new formula or just a reaction to the fact that something we had liked for so long was no longer what we expected from a product named Coca-Cola. I'm not sure we know the definitive answer for that question to this day.

Since Coca-Cola didn't consult us about the matter, there must have been lots more people who had an immediate and strong distaste (pun intended) for New Coke. Little protest groups sprang up. Then the most significant thing of all happened: sales started dropping and the company's bottom line was affected.

Faced with mounting public resistance, the Coca-Cola Company did the unthinkable. Company leaders admitted making a mistake. Its president went on national television to admit it. In less than three months after introducing the much-ballyhooed New Coke, Classic Coke was returned to the public.

Several people pulled out the memory of that event the last few weeks — to chide other companies, political parties, educational institutions, city governments, and "significant others" for being so bull-headed with their thinking recently.

Regardless of the legitimacy to all the proposed applications of evoking that memory of Coke's mistake, there is a personal application for each of us in the story. Although there are occasional issues of genuine principle where holding your ground and refusing to yield is mandatory for people of honor, those situations are relatively few and far between.

Most decisions, by most leaders, reduce to judgment calls someone must make. And it is sheer arrogance for any CEO, mayor, club president, church leader, or parent to make every pronouncement a test of her authority or a means to prove he is really in charge. Nobody is right all the time.

Nobody is right all the time.
Good leadership sometimes entails swallowing pride, owning up to a bad call, and reversing gears. Be careful that pride doesn't masquerade as principle.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 TNIV).