How to Recover From a Huge Blunder
Have you ever made a cringe worthy mistake? One that ruins not just your day but the week or weeks following? One where you can’t stop obsessing about your failings? Yes? You’re not alone.
I made a big mistake last year. A mistake that I was so embarrassed about I couldn’t talk about it to anyone except my husband and one friend. I had a huge amount of shame around my blunder. But with time, distance and overcoming my gaffe I’m now ready to talk about it and share the lessons learned.
I was in my car doing errands when I got a phone call from a client. She said, “Are you on your way?” I was totally confused. What did she mean I asked? Well, it turns out I was supposed to be giving a training to their employees that day. What? It wasn’t on my calendar. How could that be? My heart raced, I broke out in a cold sweat and I felt panicked. I quickly drove home and looked at the client contract. Yep, sure enough that was the date of the training and it was not on my calendar! The CEO of the company called me and shared his disappointment with me. Of course he was disappointed. He and his employees had blocked off that time on their calendars and were sitting and waiting for me.
So, what did I do? I apologized and admitted I had really messed up. I told him I would do the training at another date that was convenient for him for half the price and I would also give each of the participants a copy of my book. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to have me back after I, an etiquette consultant, had inconvenienced them so much. He said he would think about it. I understood. I had truly blown it. So, I waited and prayed he would give me another chance. I’m a great trainer and I knew if he allowed me to give the training he would be happy.
As the weeks passed by with no word my mistake haunted me. A couple weeks later I saw that I had put the training on my calendar for the same date of the month but one month later. I emailed the CEO and explained what had happened and again apologized, but no word back from him.
I beat myself up continually – How could you have been so stupid? What is your problem? You’re a failure! Have you ever said those things to yourself? I was sure he had decided not to have me back. I was devastated.
But, in the meantime, I took steps to make sure this would never happen again. I looked at the contracts of all of my upcoming engagements and checked that the correct dates were on my calendar. I got a white board and listed the future trainings and speaking engagements I had so that I could see the list every day.
Then one day, several months later, my contact emailed me to ask if I could do the training in December. Thankfully I was available the date she inquired about and I quickly responded I was. My spirits lifted. I was so happy I was going to be given a second chance. They had to change the date to later in December but again I was happy I was available. If I had had something else on my calendar that wasn’t client related I would have changed it so I could make the training date for this client.
I then thought about how I was going to discuss my major gaffe with the training participants. I didn’t want it hanging in the air. I decided to make myself an example of how you handle a mistake.
This is how I opened my presentation:
Hello everyone! Etiquette training take two.
I want to apologize for missing the June training. You might be thinking, it’s rather ironic an etiquette consultant missed an etiquette training. Well, yes it is. I had a scheduling snafu where somehow I had the date on my calendar as July 20, not June 20, so, my deepest apologies for inconveniencing you.
But there are lessons to be learned from my rather big mistake. The first one is etiquette is not about being perfect. That said; I would hope this kind of a mistake is few and far between. But, we are all imperfect beings, including etiquette consultants and it’s how we handle those mistakes that makes the difference.
When you mess up, take responsibility. Don’t try to hide or deny your mistake. In my case, I admitted my error and apologized.
Then, make up for the mistake. I offered to do the training another time at half the price and I included a copy of my book for each of the participants.
And then, take precautions to make sure it never happens again. I guess that worked because here I am, committed to giving you a great training.
So, next time you make a mistake, apologize, take responsibility and make it right. And remember, no one is perfect, not even etiquette consultants.
I got some smiles and laughs and the evaluation forms for my training were positive, so I guess I did okay.
So, if you made a major mistake that you’re still beating yourself up about remember we are all imperfect beings who sometimes mess up. Make amends and do what you can to try not to repeat the same mistakes again.
Have you made a huge blunder that you had to recover from? If so, what did you do? Were you able to recover?
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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