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  • Nicole Brown

Failure

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

Guys, I screwed up last night. In an inexcusable way. Not an honest mistake, a lazy one.


I develop many, if not most of our programs at this early stage. There's a lot of throwing shots in the dark and learning what sticks. For better or for worse, I like to move fast, test quickly, fail repeatedly, and salvage the pieces that actually work. It's my style.


We just opened Mosaic three months ago, and I developed a program to offer. I talked to our marketing director about it. I had wanted to run it myself, but thought we would be down in Lexington that day so I ended up scheduling another, wonderful staff member to run it. I spoke with her about the structure I envisioned and we were in agreement. I was confident she would be great.


I didn't include my marketing director when I spoke to my chosen instructor. I didn't dot my I's and cross my T's. I didn't proof her marketing materials. I got lazy, plain and simple.


Long story short, the program was advertised in a way that was different from what my instructor and I intended. And people were justifiably upset. My instructor called me explaining their discontent, and initially I was caught off-guard. I didn't understand. I told her to commit to what we had discussed and hung up the phone.


Immediately, an angry, public post appeared explaining the wronged party's position. I quickly verified their criticism, and the back-peddling began. I called my instructor and asked her to do what she could to salvage the relationship between us and the participants that remained.


I personally apologized to the participants whom I could reach. I felt like an ass. A complete, miserable ass. A lazy ass. I put my instructor in an incredibly uncomfortable position, I damaged our reputation, I blew up people's evenings. I crashed and burned on an opportunity.


It sucks to suck, let me tell you. I've been in this for four years, and this kind of mistake is humiliating, inexcusable. I'm partially writing this to process in a cathartic way, partially to let all of you out there know that I, too, suck at my job a lot of the time. A lot, a lot. Most of the time, if we're being real here.


I want nothing more than to dig a hole right now and hide. But that would mean leaving the affected people high and dry, which is even worse than the initial mistake. I'm afraid of the impact of the mistake, afraid of what it can cost us, afraid of losing an exceptional staff member.


Alas, here I am this morning, trying to get a hold of the people who left out of rage yesterday, writing documents to catch these kinds of errors moving forward, designing a coaching program to teach staff how to handle similar situations when I'm not around, scheduling meetings to personally apologize to staff and put us in a position to be stronger and better moving forward.


If you had a bad week, I hope this makes you feel a little bit better. If you're struggling to come back from an embarrassing screw-up, know that I'm right there with you.


- Nicole


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