Don’t Let Puking Dogs Lie
It was a fantastic Easter feast. We had ham, baked ziti, my mother in law’s delicious spinach bread, and tons of chocolate. As we were packing everything up, we had some ham bones left over, and we put them aside for the dogs.
My husband and I vividly remembered the last time a neighbor had given our Cesar a ham bone; we were awakened in the middle of the night with him throwing up all over our bed. So we discussed whether or not we should give him another one. We decided that we could, but that we would control how LONG he had the bone so there would be no way he could get sick again.
Then the Bocce games began…and we totally let him have the bone until it was gone.
Once again, we were awakened by a puking dog in our bed. And I said to myself, “How many times do I have to learn this lesson before I change my behavior and decision making?” I swore to myself I would never make that mistake again. I’ll have to let you know if the lessons sticks.
So here’s my question…
When it comes to mistakes or missteps in your work life, how many of them make a second (or third, or fourth) appearance?
Here are my observations based on my own experience.
1. The answer can depend on how serious the mistake was.
Very early in my sales career, I was involved in a huge project for a showroom at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago that was participating in a big show. I was way out of my depth and had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t ask for help.
The projects’ costs far exceeded my original estimate, and I said NOTHING to my clients. It wasn’t until they got the bill, and were so outraged that they called the president of my company (who then reprimanded me, but in a kind way), that I realized how important communication is, even if the news is going to be received poorly.
Never again did I allow a client to get a bill that was a surprise. I only had to make that mistake ONCE, probably because the torture of that experience was so traumatic and dragged out for weeks before the installation. I agonized over the conflict, but chose to do nothing, which was clearly the wrong call.
2. Some mistakes can be recurring, and turn into habits, which can be really hard to break.
Examples include calling on the wrong companies, the wrong people at those companies, refusing to recognize put offs when you are getting them (send me equipment list/samples and we’ll keep you in mind) or not working hard enough. This one requires some serious self awareness and self examination on your part. If your sales are stellar, you are probably doing fine here, but if not, take a look at your habits and fix what’s broken.
3. Is your self-awareness button broken?
Do you know how your clients and prospects feel about you? What is your reputation? How do you approach the issue of your competition? Is your behavior above reproach? Are you truly an honest person who always looks for the response with the most integrity? Again, you may need to reach out to a colleague or a peer to help you unravel this one.
Mistakes are how we learn. Without them, many valuable lessons would be lost on us. But it is what we learn from them—and how we alter our subsequent behaviors—that really matters.
Please feel free to share any life lessons you have learned the hard way, ones you keep repeating, or anything else you’d like to share.
Here’s to mistakes - made once!