Socrates had it right man. The secret to change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but building on the new. Many of us fall victim of replaying past mistakes in our head instead of focusing on how we can build from that moment.
I still have a full time job in corporate America. About two to three weeks back I made a huge mistake. Well, not just ONE huge mistake… it felt like nothing that couple of weeks was going right for me. It felt like everything I touched wilted in my hands. Honestly, it got so bad that I had given up mentally. A place I had never been to before. I just gave up. I felt like a screw up and every mistake I made was exposing my flaws more and more.
Please reconfirm I am not the only person who has felt this way.
Well, the person who this mistake affected was working out of state for the week on another major project. However, she was still CC’d on emails and responding back and she was the person who caught this mistake after it went live for the whole company to see. Once the mistake happen I felt a sickness like no other take over me. I actually wanted to cry at my desk. I was just so over it.
It was just the perfect storm. She was out of town, my boss was on vacation, I had a billion other projects I was working, on top of email after email with new project request. I just buckled under all the pressure. I was so ready for the verbal lashing that would come when she got back into town later that week.
I mentally prepared myself with all the worse things she could say about me. When she asked me to see her in my office that pit in my stomach reappeared and my eyeslids could barely contain the floodgates. This is meaningful because I am a person who rarely gets emotional over bad stuff happening.
However, she didn’t say anything bad. No one thing. I learned that day why they promoted this woman, and why she was a true boss.
She didn’t focus on the mistake I made. She acknowledged it and then went to build a solution based off what had happen. WOW. This amazing woman really could have reprimanded me, but instead was like, “this happen… now we need to focus on what to do next to avoid future situations like this.” That’s exactly what we did. She told me she wasn’t angry and could see that I was, “drinking water from a fire hydrant.” She could see I wanted to do a good job, “but sometimes these things just happen and we have to learn from them.”
You know the even more amazing thing? When my boss came back to work the following week he wasn’t angry either. In fact he just summed it up real quick, “We all just have really bad weeks. It just happens. It happens to all of us.” That was it.
About two weeks later we organized a meeting to discuss procedures on what to do to help avoid this issue again. One thing that would never change would be last minute request. So we designed our meeting to include that issue as well.
We came up with a solution that would be beneficial to all of us and help reduce errors when it comes to last minute major projects that land at our desk. The procedure created was designed to help reduce the number of mistakes coming from our groups. Now everything is not 100% foolproof and mistakes may continue to happen, but I believe the resolution we all agreed upon will help alleviate further occurrences for future projects.
Taking my mistake as the catalyst for change really helped put faith back in my work and inspired me to never give up again. I made a mistake and I owned it. However, it felt good that people did not harp on that mistake and instead acknowledged it. We came up with a solution to fix it. This is why she and my boss are leaders because they both inspired me not to give up on myself again.
This real life example is how we can use past mistakes to build our future. Let’s be honest, we can’t get everything in life perfect the first time around. There are always going to be influences to why we just make mistakes. Many of them are out of our hands, and sometimes things just go wrong.
However, like the homie Socrates said, we need to focus our energies on, not fighting the old, but building on the new.
Contest: In the comment below let me know of past mistakes you made and what you did (or are doing) to build upon those mistakes! Winner chosen at random
Prize: $25 Gift Certificate to Victoria’s Secret!
Contest Ends: April 26th, 2015 at 11:59AM