I’m Too Old to Just Be Figuring This Out
Earlier this week, I made a pretty significant mistake. Actually, I made two mistakes. First, when I saw the train derailing, I didn’t advocate for myself. I didn’t know how to backtrack and fix it. I don’t handle surprises well, and it was like I was having an attack of “cat got your tongue” syndrome. Then, despite knowing the train was derailed, I gave information that I was unsure of. Subsequently, I had to correct that information. I had to eat a little crow and may have to eat more.
Oddly, this peak into myself and my own insecurity has been the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. Frankly, I knew the problem that I encountered would happen (again), and I couldn’t figure out how to address it. Now, I have a plan for what I’ll do next time. And, I talked to the folks in my mastermind group and have a plan for eating more crow, if necessary. But had I not hit this wall, I would’ve kept letting it taunt me. So, maybe a wee bit of embarrassment is good from time to time, no?
But let me back up a little bit: initially, I hesitated to correct the mistake because I didn’t want to look stupid. But I between a rock and a hard place because I had made an expensive mistake. It was going to cost me money to not say anything. I also knew that letting the mistake stand would’ve been even worse than addressing because I knew the person would likely share the information with other potential customers. Essentially, I was going to lose face either way. Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was afraid of not being perfect, not looking perfect, no looking flawless, of having to say, “I made a mistake”. What’s more is that it wasn’t about eating humble pie; it was about how a major part of my personal self-worth is tied to doing things right and being able to brag about how I just keep getting better and how I learn from my mistakes. The key to that bragging is that I am usually able to frame the mistakes as things I couldn’t have anticipated. I couldn’t say that this time. It was a mistake that I should’ve had a plan for (I do know). Unless I truly am stupid or naive, there’s no way anybody running a business couldn’t see that coming. I was more worried about coming across as human than I was about the financial loss I was about to incur.
One more thing: it would be easier to tell you that this was about an out of control ego; but the truth is, it’s really a self-esteem problem. How you see yourself should not be based on never making mistakes and not having a ready-solution for everything. Having a fully intact sense of self should be based on a plethora of things and all of that doesn’t go down the tubes when it takes you a while to fix a looming problem (in my case, it wasn’t until I screwed it up that the solution became strikingly clear).
As much as I licked my wounds about this (and despite the tad of anxiety that I feel about the follow up conversation), I feel so much better after evaluating what happened. Looking dead at the problem and what I did has given me such conviction that I know I’ll never make the same mistake again; I’m totally committed to new mistakes! Seriously, I do my best when I have a bonafide, sho-nuff reason for why I’m doing whatever it is that I’m doing…and my confidence is strengthened knowing that I can strive to be excellent but that every mistake isn’t the end of the world and that I can recover…..beautifully.