Workplace 101: Putting a Lousy Day Behind You

Nobody tries to have one. They hit us out of nowhere when we least expect it. One minute we’re whistling a happy tune and the next we’re crawling home crying and blaming our mothers wanting to quit our jobs and see if the local Burger Barn is still hiring. But let’s face it, we all have terrible days. We all drop the ball occassionally.

Like the time I thought it would be fun to make my own jumpsuit in home economics and wear it to high school. It fell apart by lunch and I had to face the horrible shame of my classmates seeing that I was wearing Tuesday’s underwear on Wednesday. Or the time I accidentally shaved off one eyebrow (long story) and never could get the other one drawn on to match just right. Or the time I got the game day boutonniere from the cute cheerleader and discovered I had a booger on my shirt.. When you’re a motivational speaker like me, you have tough days just like anybody else, only your bad days take place on a platform in front of hundreds of people. Makes you wonder why most people’s biggest fear is public speaking, doesn’t it?

We all fail, as much as we try to admit otherwise. Occassionally, we’re even at fault. Crazy. Was anyone from legal listening? Humans, by their nature, are not faultless. Occasionally we screw up. I used to have a tried and true technique for coping with my goofs – lash out at anyone handy, eat my weight in chocolate, blame as many people as I can, and go over and over the scene repeatedly in my head until the next goof comes along to replace it. This self-destructive behavior did little for my health, self-esteem, or for how people I wanted to influence perceived me. And if you don’t think people are watching, you are wrong. You probably don’t have cameras and recording devices tracking your every move. Still, count on it – you’ve got folks watching you.. Especially those of you in high profile positions of leadership. We peones are getting our cues from you..

I finally wised up, and came up with a method to handle my failures.. While failure wears a million different faces in my life – I still go through the same steps.

1.Examine the Issue
Put your ego aside and take an unbiased look at what occurred and how you fit in.. Could the situation been avoided all together? Has this happened to you before? Dig deep here – is this a lesson that you should have already learned? In all honesty, are you to blame?
2.Take Accountability
Don’t blame. Don’t explain why. Never say “But I…” This is going to be extremely tough because we’re wired from childhood to look for a way to shift the blame. You’ll have to take my word on this one – be the bigger person. Accept responsibility for what happened.
3.Say I’m Sorry
Nothing is as surprising or goes further than a simple apology.. People are very forgiving when they know the apology is sincere.
4.Correct It
Fix it provided you can. Don’t make it uglier. Correct it. Get to the root of the problem and solve it.. This isn’t about emotions. This is about fixing the issue. Differentiate feelings from what must be achieved.
5.Learn From It
What part of this could you eliminate? Prepare for similar problems in the future and put a process in place to prevent them..
6.Go Easy on Yourself
So you made a mistake. Go past it. Did you really think you were flawless?
7.Don’t Obsess
Stop discussing it.. To your co-workers, friends, family, YOURSELF. Ever again. No, don’t pick it up again tomorrow. Let it go. Completely. Gone. If it raises it’s ugly head again, slap yourself out of it. At some point you won’t think about it anymore.
8.Guffaw
Sooner or later it will be hilarious. Laugh at failure. Then it won’t have influence over you any more. That’s my process when I make a blunder. I’ve got them memorized. If they’re wrong then I’m sorry. See this as an additional foul up.

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