To err is human. To err twice, in the same legally executed document, must therefore be super human.
Allow me then to don my cape for a little foray into M&As – Mistakes and Apologies.
Everybody makes mistakes. Typos. Mispronounced names. Prematurely sent emails. That we are susceptible to them doesn’t say much about us. How we respond, on the other hand, speaks volumes.
In my experience as a female, which is limited admittedly to 46 years and 318 days, mistakes made in a professional setting can feel enormous. Paralyzing. The dread that accompanies a business blunder can pale in proportion to the mistake itself. Why? Because I’m waiting to be found out as a fraud.
There are exceptions to every rule. Not every woman experiences this, and not everyone who experiences this is a woman. But I’m comfortable asserting this is a phenomena with which many women in business are familiar.
We mess up. We’re mortified. We lead with apology and follow with explanation. Only then do we get around to fixing it. And still we sometimes trip into a spiral of shame and self-doubt. We obsess.
I must be the only idiot to have made such a mistake.
Now they’ll think I’m sloppy. Careless. Dumb.
Oh my god, they will know I’m actually dumb. How on earth have I skated so far for so long?
What if it’s true, that I’m only here because I’m a woman? Am I even qualified?
I’d say we do it to ourselves, except that, of course, the seed of doubt was planted by someone else. We simply watered it and nourished it and protected it fiercely so it could flourish.
Let’s not do that anymore. To ourselves or each other.
I want off this particular crazy train.
Assess it. Did anyone die? Is someone’s life, liberty, or property in imminent danger? If the answer to any of these is yes, ring all the alarms. Otherwise, take a breath and move on.
Own it. Do not cover. Tell whomever needs to know. Apologize for the inconvenience or harm, but spare others the groveling.
Fix it. Without delay.
Learn from it. Retrace my steps without judgment. Can I spot what I did wrong? Or missed? If I can see a way to do it differently next time – I’ll savor that experience. I happen to know it’s richer than business school.
And with that, I’m moving on from yesterday’s super human double error and hanging up my cape.
How do you handle mistakes?