I have had a few of those in my career and irrespective of what side of the fence you are on in the moment, learning or teaching it can have a tremendous impact on your career and your psyche for that matter. The moments that stay with me the most are the ones where I simply dropped the ball. The idea that I screwed up and disappointed someone that I saw as a mentor or a real leader was the toughest to overcome.
I liken it to the equivalent of the long walk home with a D on the report card after your mom paid for tutoring lessons. When I look back, none of these monumental mistakes were really that monumental at all, well maybe one or two were, but the real lessons learned centered around not giving up and caring enough to right your wrongs.
If you give a damn, 99% of the time you can make it right. I try to make amends for the lessons I have learned in my career by sharing them with those who are traveling the same path. What was the biggest screw up? I don’t know if I could single out one, but there was this time when my mistake angered someone that I genuinely saw as a father figure. I absolutely admired this man and when he was angered by my mistake it shook me to the core.
After about 15 minutes of listening to his yelling I said to him that I could fix it. It was 4:00pm and I promised him that it would be corrected and on his desk in the morning. I stayed all night. I got it done just before he got there. He looked at me and with a straight face said go home get a shower and get back before 9.
Later that day, Ed Muldoon stopped by patted me on the back and asked me an unrelated question that he already knew the answer to just to let me know that the two of us were ok. He didn’t destroy me. He gave me a chance to fix it and I did the same for others when I was in his position. That’s the way it should work. That is how we become better not just as employees and entrepreneurs but as human beings. Cheers to paying it forward and never giving up.