the art and science of making mistakes

The Art and Science of Making Mistakes

I hate making mistakes.

I woke up this morning to an email from one of our newly-registered students in the WP Mastery Course letting me know that the start date in the email I sent out this morning was November 6th, rather than what it should have been – May 7th.

That would be bad enough, but this was the second time in this launch series that the wrong start date got past me. And it was the second time that this new student had written to let me know. Cringe.

How could this have happened? I had rewritten and proofread the email launch sequence several times, as had other members of my team. I could only shake my head, move on, and plan to go over the rest of the sequence again once I got back to my office.

At least this was an instance of me shooting myself in the foot, rather than shooting someone else’s like I did a few years back…

I was working with a client on his website and marketing for his new business when I sent out his first newsletter with a screwed up mail-merge.

The emails went out starting with “Hello (first name)”, rather than inserting the recipient’s name. That was bad enough, but his email list read like the Who’s Who of Atlanta. My client was embarrassed and angry that this had occurred. Naturally, I felt horrible about it. And there was no way to take it back.

Again, it wasn’t that I hadn’t tested it. The problem was that the test emails don’t include the mail-merge function, so I didn’t catch the missing code that would have imported the recipients’ names.

Each week I send out thousands of emails and never before had anything like this happened. And you can bet that I won’t ever let THAT happen again.

Or maybe I will, ‘cause that’s the nature of mistakes, right?

Given that there are a thousand little parts and pieces to what I do, I know I will screw up plenty of other things.

And I know that the bigger the game we take on in the world, the more mistakes we’ll make. And the bigger the game, the more visible those mistakes will be.

The only way I can continue to put myself out, taking on big projects and big clients is to remember that shit happens – some good and some bad.

And when I (we) screw up, there’s a simple formula to get through it:
First, take responsibility and apologize.
Second, see if there is a way to make it right.
Third, put into place procedures so the problem won’t happen again.

Then, what remains is the issue of dealing with our feelings about screwing up. Sometimes that’s the hardest part.

The best thing to do is stop the negative self-talk and let it go. Harder said than done.

But, practice, practice and practice makes almost perfect.

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