It’s your day off. You are sitting comfortably in bed, reading for leisure, sipping on a pineapple and kiwi protein shake, thinking to yourself how amazing your past week has been. When your phone starts blowing up.
First call: You ignore it- hey it’s your day off.
Second call: it’s an unknown number….ignore
Then there are a series of simultaneous text beeps. (Growing concern so begin to reach between the pillows to hunt for the phone)
Third call: IT HITS YOU-BAM!
Your beautiful serene self care day is about to be a memory.
Tribe, this happened to me this past Friday. I was sitting in bed counting my blessings and looking forward to my weekend of peace, when I received a call from my graduate intern asking me where I was and who was supposed to be facilitating the body positivity presentation for the student athletes and their coaches? You guessed it- Me.
For the first time in my career, I had forgotten to show up for an event. Let me tell you, I have never felt so embarrassed about anything related to work as I did in that moment. All I could think of was how I deserved to be flogged and paraded down the street as people chanted…Shame! Shame! Shame!
I would like to think that I am not the only person that has ever screwed up or will screw up while at work, so I thought I’d share the four steps that helped me to move forward despite my major work fuck up.
1. Nurse your ego wounds:
a. Allow yourself time to nurse your embarrassed ego. GREAT…1…2…3….WOOSAH. Then agree to forgive yourself and move on. Perhaps, you are like me and pride yourself on being amazing at what you do and this mistake really rocks your self-image for a second or two. That’s okay. Take a moment or two to grieve. Set a timer because long-term grief will not solve the existing problem.
b. Confront your worst case scenarios:
Write down the worst things that could happen because of this mistake. For most of us this is the easiest part. It goes hand in hand with the momentary self-loathing. Will you be fired? Will you lose respect? Will people think you’re a joke now?
PHEW! THAT WAS PAINFUL. Okay, now let’s be realistic. How much of this is likely to happen? Be honest with yourself.
Write down the likelihood of each outcome based on the severity of this mistake. Now, that we are being a bit rational we can move on to the next stage.
2. Move on and a Plan to Fix the Problem
Moving on is never easy but with a bit of self-reflection and analysis, it’s possible. Ask yourself the tough questions.
· Why did this mistake happen?
· What steps did you take or not take that led to this particular outcome?
· How can you prevent it from happening again?
-What can you do differently moving forward?
· What steps can you take immediately to ameliorate the issue?
3. Own up to your mistake. Apologize to those affected. Let them in on your plan to rectify the issue.
4. Take your steps to do better and take care of yourself
Oftentimes, mistakes are made because we are tired or careless. Make sure that you are taking time during your day to take active breaks and to stretch. When you take care of your body and your mind, you will make less mistakes in the future.
At the end of the day, I rescheduled the event and sent an apology letter to the student athletes and coaches. The following Friday, not only did all the participants show up to the event; they bought friends with them. We had a lovely workshop with apology cider donuts ( a little harmless bribes never hurt anyone.) My reputation was not damaged, and all was still right with the world. The students and staff made it clear to me that they appreciated my honesty about the mistake and the way that I handled it actually encouraged them. Real people make mistakes. It is how you come back from them that matters.
Be encouraged, Tribe.