Wednesday morning of this week I took a tumble. Which is an understatement. I slipped on my driveway in the rain and completely face-planted; landing hard on one side of my body – and ached from my ankle up to my head. I’m ok – and fortunate; it could have been a lot worse.
What struck me as particularly ironic is, in the heat of the moment, laying on the ground splayed out in pain, I was more concerned about the well-meaning neighbor that witnessed the event than I was my own injuries. Doesn’t it seem like the only thing worse than a mistake is a mistake made with an audience?
In business, mistakes are inevitable – even though we all try our best to prevent them. And the nature of business means that they are often witnessed by others – sometimes internally, sometimes externally. What I’ve found in my personal experience is, transparency seems to be appreciated by customers and employees alike. Admitting the mistake, why it happened, and how you’re fixing it gives a lot more confidence to those watching than watching someone pretend you never stumbled in the first place.
Just this week, we ordered some business cards for a customer. The design we sent was beautiful. The card we received was not. It was grainy and slightly fuzzy. I would not have been proud to give them to potential customers if they were my card. This was a mistake.
But the next step is to get back up again. Be stronger than you were before. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t let your fall be what defines you – let your rise from it be what people talk about.
We called the customer, admitted the cards looked bad, apologized, reordered them at our expense with a different printer, and, fingers crossed, they will have beautiful high quality cards to give their customers in a couple days.
Don’t let your mistake be your last word. Let your triumph over it leave the final remarks.