Here’s a word of encouragement:
You are going to fail.
Well, that wasn’t the encouraging part, but hopefully what I’m about to say will be.
In life and our careers, we have competing priorities and a limited amount of time. We’ve all faced this. Moving into a consulting role several years ago made this even more clear to me. Juggling multiple projects, people, deadlines, and expectations were not (and are not) easy.
Think of these items like plates that you are spinning and trying to keep in the air. One plate isn’t so bad, but then you get three, five or ten plates spinning and all of a sudden, you are completely tapped out, and the plates are out of control. It’s hard to manage.
This is the reality: you are going to drop a plate. It’s how you pick it up that counts.
Dropping a plate doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, or that you are incompetent. It means that you are human and humans make mistakes. It’s how we respond to these moments of failure that determine how, and if we succeed.
You are going to fail. Something is going to fall through the cracks. We are going to disappoint people (including our ourselves). You are going to drop a plate. Make sure that when you drop the plate, it’s the first one you pick back up and then work extremely hard to prevent that plate from falling again.
Here is an example.
I was working with a client and was coordinating things between my team and theirs, and I forgot that I had an action item to follow-up with my team. The entire project timeline hinged on this action item. I got so distracted with other client work that I missed the mark.
I dropped the plate.
As a result, the timeline for the project had to be adjusted, the client was frustrated, and I was embarrassed. This wasn’t like me, and it was a poor reflection on my work. However, I failed, and I had to do something to fix it.
I quickly worked to get the appropriate information to the right people, and we got things moving again. I was over communicative with everyone and did a better job of tracking my action items and the current status of conversations. As soon as there was an email in my inbox related to the project, I took the time to read and return it right away.
You see, this moment of failure didn’t define who I was. It wasn’t an area of weakness. It was an opportunity. It provided me the ability to stretch and grow. And, through my response and the way I handled the failure, we accomplished the work, and the client was happy.
As you experience these moments of failure, remember that it’s how we respond to that failure that determines our success. Don’t dwell on the failure. See it as an opportunity to grow and become a better version of yourself.
So, what plates do you need to pick back up? Don’t waste any more time. Pick it up. Now.