The Art of Making Mistakes
 In General

the art and science of making mistakesI 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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Showing 7 comments
  • Robyn Elliott

    Hi Judi,

    Enjoyed your post. It made me want to share Six Truths to keep in mind when “going for it”. Doug shared this with me from a business comic book. I don’t know if it will be as powerful without the explanations — let me know. I keep this on my wall at my desk. Here are the truths…

    1. There is no plan
    2. Think strengths, not weaknesses
    3. It’s not about you
    4. Persistence trumps talent
    5. Make excellent mistakes
    6. Leave an imprint

    Since making mistakes are part of any real process, we can feel good about being in good company.

    • Judi Knight

      Thanks Robyn. Great list. I know we are all in this together:-) Judi

  • Leanne Fourier

    Hi Judy,
    This is a great post. I’ve always thought what a great world we would have if people would just honestly own up to their mistakes so we can all move on – and work together in a spirit of trust . When I screw up (yes I have!) I always take the approach of how can I solve this in a way that I can look the client and myself in the eye. This is even more important, when I’ve discovered the mistake before the client. In these (few) situations, I’ve been able to come up with the solution along with my admission of guilt which has helped the client get past the error. In one such occurrence, the solution cost me some dollars even though it wasn’t all my fault. I didn’t see any value in bringing the other individual down with me as she wasn’t prepared to share the blame. I felt better about owning up to the solution. It’s in this way, we can move on and let it go. If the client ever comes to me first, I’d just want to know how I could make it better for them. Just this morning, I screwed up with the timing of my own eNews posting. But it’s fixed now and I am ‘over it’.

    • Judi Knight

      Leanne, I think that is the important thing to be able to look the client and myself in the eye. And I don’t think money is worth fighting about with a client.

  • Michael Fournier

    Hi Judi, Great eNews. Its hard to get over mistakes, especially when its your intention to deliver “perfect” service. Most of the time we don’t see it coming and blissfully believe our latest project is the best thing we’ve ever done. Emotionally, your invested, committed, exposed… then boom! Your ego takes a blow, the project takes a walk and you’re left holding the bag. What now. Learn. This is part of doing business. Remedies: improve your process, challenge the issue and question how much exposure your comfortable with. It’s an opportunity to improve so channel it to power growth!

    • Judi Knight

      Michael, It does make it worse when it is our intention to deliver excellent results:-) The things that can be fixed don’t really bother me. It is the ones where it happened and the best you can do is make sure it doesn’t happen again.

  • Vicki

    So I’m chuckling. The post says April 25, 2018, but the comments are from August 27, 2014. I must be on the tail end of a vvvery long time-staggered Mailchimp campaign! Nonetheless, maybe this is so we can all reflect on those moments when we wish we could just turn back time and catch the mistake before it happened!

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