What did you screw up on in 2014?


What are the things that you screwed up on in 2014?  Where did life smack you on the head and remind you that, as Winston Churchill wisely said:  “success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”?

Over the years, I can point to many successes and failures in my career – which I consider to be the big picture stuff.  But it is the smaller “screw ups” that can lead to the biggest learnings in life.  The pivotal point rests on the ability to accept that you screwed up and turn it into a change in behavior.

Here are some of my screw-ups from 2014 and what I learned and will change:

1. Underestimating someone:  one of my coaching clients called me on the fact that she thought I was judging her and finding her lacking in certain business acumen.  This could be a fatal blow for a business coach and is a pitfall that I work hard to avoid, but obviously I screwed up in her case.

  • Lesson:  who am I to judge someone else?  If I have not walked in their shoes, or even if I have, I still don’t know the personal and external dynamics at play in that person and her business.
  • Change:  stop judging other people.  Accept them at face value and work with what they are telling you, not what you are judging to be the case.

2. Force fitting a business idea to fit my personal life:  I lead a pretty seamless existence between business and personal (and have written on this in past blogs).  But every now and then I force fit one to the other.  As an example, I planned a workshop this year in a location that really worked best for my personal life – with near-disastrous results.

It can also work the other way: I sometimes plan activities with friends to fit into my work schedule, with the result that my friends feel like they are just another entry in my iPhone calendar!

  •  Lesson:  if it feels forced, it probably is.
  • Change:  strengthen the invisible threads in my seamless existence!  Assess business and personal opportunities and stitch each one up a bit tighter.

3.Following the almighty dollar first:  I have adopted poet Maya Angelou’s wonderful advice as my mantra: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

However, there was at least one instance this year where I was more focused on the money.  I suppose it comes with having been a breadwinner for 40+ years, but I took my attention off pursuing the things I love and opted for going for what my Dad called the “almighty dollar”.  If anyone had their eyes on me at that point, then I know that I don’t like what they would have seen.

  • Lesson: the money truly is secondary.
  • Change: I have now written Maya’s fabulous quote and posted it above my desk and will stare at it anytime I am tempted to follow the money first.

4. Telling people what to do:  just when I thought I was a fully evolved business coach and know that it is always better to lead people to their own answers, rather than telling them what to do – I found myself giving advice once too many times!

My coaching clients do sometimes ask for advice, in which case I usually do everything I can to elicit their own experiences and what they are seeing as their own answers, before I go to my advice.  But with one client this year, he was moving too slowly and I jumped in too quickly to give him my advice.  And guess what?  It wasn’t the right advice for him and when we went back and worked through getting to his own answer, it was WAY BETTER than what I had suggested and he was much more likely to act on it.

  • Lesson:  my clients are capable of their own decisions.
  • Change:  at the beginning of every coaching session, I will remind myself that my job is to provide the fuel for the journey, not the vehicle.

So that is doubtless only the tip of the iceberg on where I screwed up this year.  How about you – where did you screw-up, and more importantly what did you learn from it and what change will you make because of it?

Whether you count more successes or failures in the past year, I wish you the courage to continue and excel in the year ahead.

Happy Holidays!