Some mistakes are fixed with an “oopsy…let me do that over.” When a quick mulligan won’t do the trick, some mistakes will cost time and/or money to redo. But they can be fixed.
Some mistakes are irreversible. Like the one I made last night.
Roger O’Neel, a worship and music professor from Cedarville University, delivered on some incredible content during a live webinar interview.
That I didn’t record.
I realized it this morning as my Keurig was warming up. Maybe it was the red “heating” light that jarred the thought, ‘I didn’t hit record.’
I didn’t hit record?!
The heating light went off and the blue brew button was ready to push. I grabbed a cheap Folgers K-cup (the nearly tasteless ones my wife had gotten with a coupon) and scolded myself, “You don’t deserve the Italian roast.”
Last night’s interview can’t be recreated. Sure, we could do the interview again in a few months. But the conversation that occurred on an unseasonably balmy Monday evening in March, with the same comments and questions and chat, just can’t be duplicated.
Now as I suck down the last of the bland Folgers, I’m thinking about what I’ve been learning recently when it comes to my mistakes.
Face, Not Save Face
First, how to face a mistake – especially when it involves other people. I wish this wasn’t true, but my first reaction was some sort of spin to save face. I wanted to blame the technology.
But I’ve been trying to dismantle my impression management system for awhile. Unfortunately, it’s deeply rooted from being in fine working service for so long. But on my better days, I check these thoughts before they become false words or actions.
Facing a mistake means I admit it for what it is. Jeff Goins, a writer/blogger I follow, wrote an email update just yesterday (coincidence?) that included this:
I once knew a counselor who wouldn't allow his patients to say, "I'm sorry."
"That's too easy," he said.
Instead, say what you really mean. Say what the person wants to hear: I WAS WRONG.
I didn’t emotionally wound anyone with this mistake, but it’s still costly. I lost a sizable portion of a return on an investment that Roger entrusted to me last night.
"I" messed it up. Not the webinar site. Not my computer. (Heck, I just switch to a Mac, so no one would believe that anyway.) I did it. I was wrong.
The second thing I’ve been learning about my mistakes is learning from my mistakes. There’s a passive, Pavlov’s dog type of learning that takes place in us humans when we make mistakes. But I’m trying to do intentional post-mortems on my mistakes and failures to truly learn from them.
[By the way, this is a great read from Seth Godin about failure and mistakes – he makes an interesting comparison between the two, and then concludes that we should fail more.]
And lastly, I’m learning how to leave my mistakes. A couple years ago I would have beat myself up over this for a couple days. Seriously? Yeah, seriously.
But I’m learning to let stuff go. Some of it is just “life lived, lesson learned, so move on.” And some of it needs to be left at the foot of the cross. But regardless of which it is, I leave it.
And now that I’ve just finished the “self-flagellation by bad Folgers,” I think I’ll leave to go make that cup of Italian roast.