Blog 2020 02 26 What to do when you screwed up?

What to do when you screwed up?

Have you ever done something silly in your job?

Obviously, you have. Just like me. Or better to say, all of us.

You might ask what kind of silliness I just meant. It doesn’t matter. It can be an offense against morals, ethics, company processes or it can be severe technical mistakes.

These wrongdoings can come from considered or not considered negligence or simple laziness. Even from ignorance. It doesn’t matter.

The message is the same.

Don’t care! Just do it again!

And you will get your results accordingly.

Let’s take a former colleague of mine. I changed the name, but not much otherwise.

At a previous workplace, we were not entitled to install random software on our laptops, I think both for security and licensing reasons. The rules were quite clear. There were whitelisted software and if we needed something else, we had to request it. Though you might have received that new piece of application after the project has already finished. That’s another issue.

Leslie liked music. As we were working in an open space, music was a joy for him and besides it also let him close out some constantly chatting members of the team - unless he was babbling.

The by default installed music player was not so great. So he installed another one suiting his needs. Not from the whitelist, as the whitelist listed no software for such purposes, and of course, he went forward without asking for an exception - he wouldn’t have got it anyway.

He deliberately went against the company rules so that he could control his music the way he wanted.

Even though this was quite a few years ago, application scanners were already running and his software was identified.

Leslie’s boss talked to him and Leslie confirmed, of course, he would never do the same thing again.

His software was removed. And he didn’t do the same thing again.

Well. Not exactly the same thing. He thought he could outsmart the scanner. He copied back a portable version of the music player to the system but first, he renamed it to one of the OS’ tools name.

Isn’t that a smart move?!

Unluckily, the scanner was too smart.

Next, it was not his boss coming alone, but together with a security guard and a nice little cardboard box.

The boss had no choice, in fact, his hands were tied by the company policies.

Leslie had to go.

Just as I said, don’t care and you will get your results accordingly as it happened to Leslie.

Einstein or someone else said that

“insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So, if you do something silly and you don’t want the same results once more, don’t do the same thing again. But what’s even more important, you don’t have to be ashamed either. Don’t feel bad. You won’t make any mistakes if you don’t do anything. But if you are a doer, if you go out and act, you will blow it. It’s fine, it’s part of the journey.

But one has to learn to accept these mistakes. I remember that around 12 years ago, I was taking care of a newsletter with a couple of thousands of members that I proposed to have to the group I was helping in my free time.

Of course, people argue here and there, they don’t agree with what they receive or they just simply want to be removed. It was not a fancy tool back in the days, there was no automatic unsubscribe, so I had to deal with all those requests manually.

One day, I replied to someone who complained - of course gently -, but I sent the mail instead to the whole group by mistake. I was so nervous that I was shaking. I called my leader right away and apologizing and asking what to do. He didn’t make a big fuss about it. He said there is nothing to do, and only those don’t make mistakes who do nothing in their life.

That was it.

I calmed down and in fact even 12 years after I still keep thinking about it.

He was absolutely right and I barely get angry if I or anyone else blow it up - if it was not intentional.

Keep calm and keep doing whatever you do. You will make some mistakes, but that’s fine. They appear because you are a doer and they show up so that you can learn from them!

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.