I opened my inbox and spotted a very exciting title: YOU ARE THE WINNER!
No, it wasn’t a spam email inviting me to a share of a very large inheritance that I had been picked out for at total random. It was a real deal. I had won a national Female Founders competition. I had been nominated (this is also a fact, as I actually know who nominated me), and I had won. I’d won business growth coaching* and a pretty significant publicity opportunity.
My heart fluttered a little bit. I felt proud that my lockdown-turnaround, and my focus on enabling others to find their purpose had managed to attract some external praise and recognition. I was also thinking how I would need to get my roots done before any photoshoot.
Then as I read more closely, I noticed a different company name within the email.
Hmm. I emailed back and said thank you so much, but that this isn’t my company name and I wondered if there had been an error.
Well, there had been an error.
The organisation involved were very apologetic, offered me a 1:1 and explained that an intern had made a mistake and there’d been an oversight.
There are a few things I learned in that moment.
About me, but also about how to deal with these kinds of situations. As is my way, I feel a list coming on.
What others think matters to us. You may feel that you are more self-sufficient than I, and indeed you may well be, but we need praise and recognition. In fact, Gallup’s research shows we all need a measure of individual praise and recognition about every 7 days. Have you praised anyone today?
Rejection is never easy. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing something, even if you know you are good at your job, and you’re making a difference, we like to be the preferred option. People say rejection is merely redirection, and although this is true, it’s not easy in the moment. Be kind to yourself. I remember hearing a motivational speaker many years ago (Paul McGee) and he recommended that when you hit a disappointing moment, or you don’t get the work you wanted, write it in your diary 6 months from that day. In most cases, you end up realising it was no biggie after all. I am going to do this and report back in October.
Take responsibility. Blaming the intern is not cool. Even if there are a set of circumstances that led to a situation, take responsibility. Don’t throw people under the bus. When am I passing the buck on my behaviour, my choices, my attitudes? When do I just need to say – a mistake was made and leave it at that?
When things go wrong – innovate. I sometimes think we miss opportunities to make the best out of a bad situation. I do believe that there is opportunity in difficulty (I rarely see it straight away, mind). Is there a better way for it to be handled? Is there a more innovative response to the mistake? There’s a great story I remember from when a waiter at Hawksmoor Hotel in Manchester accidentally served a £4,500 bottle of red wine instead of a £260 one. The company acted with a stroke of genius via twitter. No staff-shaming, and the result was incredible publicity, that clearly worked because I still remember the story to this day. You can read it for yourself here. What’s the phrase – when life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Well, I guess that’s what I’m trying to do right here, turn a pretty disappointing set of emails into some helpful reflections for me and you.
Look for those that will cheer you on. There are moments when we all get fed up. We all wonder if we are really making a difference, doing a good job. It’s OK to tell someone you feel a little flat and need their encouragement. I did that tonight. Had a flurry of Gordon Ramsey gifs and support from my family (my dad said it couldn’t have happened to a nicer girl – I am still contemplating as to whether this is a compliment or not). I mean, we all know they’re biased but bias was OK tonight. Sometimes we just need a bit of bias. There’s a time for constructive feedback, and other times constructive feedback can just do one.
Remember what matters – the cake, not the icing. It can be so easy to have our eyes on external measures of validation, whether we are doing enough, well enough, climbed enough, succeeded enough. There are a lot of other things that matter more. You decide what those things are for you. Write them down and use those as your measures of success. And of course, an award or two can be the icing on the cake. But that’s all it is – the icing. It’s not the cake.
Share failures as well as successes. I do not find this easy. I’d much rather report back on a successful venture, an award that’s been won, a moment I’d been picked. But if I don’t choose to be real, to occasionally opt for vulnerability, it all becomes a bit of a game.
So dear reader, remember how brilliant you are, award or no award.
I’m going to end with these superb words from Brene Brown:
“Don’t Shrink. Don’t puff up. Stand your sacred ground.”
*I actually have a business coach and if he’s reading this, I would like him to know I don’t need another one.