Something may happen, you may do something so bad you think it will cost you your job. This has happened to me. I once made a huge mistake, and I thought “this is the end”. My boss was furious. And I mean, I could see he was really fuming. He stuttered a bit, and then slammed his fists on one of the desks near mine and stomped off.
I was really, really worried. I avoided my boss. I worked extra hard at everything else, paying close attention to every detail. I was so afraid to make another mistake, I literally found it hard to breathe at the office.
Then my boss called me in…he wanted to talk about it. We obviously had to do damage control. I was terrified! My tears were already in my eyes when I walked into his office. When he said his first words, the tears flowed. He said: I’m not angry with you, I’m angry about the situation.”
He proceeded to tell me that there were other factors that contributed to the problem, and that even he himself was partly to blame. The stress of the last few days made a dam burst and when I managed to compose myself, we talked through it rationally and calmly, and worked out the plan of action.
I still know that most of what happened was my fault, but because he was a good manager (and a very fair person), and I didn’t proceed to blame others, I had a chance to remedy my faults and both myself and as a result, the company’s well-being, got a boost.
The following is what I learned from this experience:
1. Be vigilant of your actions.
Always be in the moment when you tackle a task. People often talk of multitasking. And one of the managers I work for has said on more than one occasion that he’s never seen anyone who can multitask like me. But let me tell you, multitasking does not exist. You need to make a very clear mind shift when moving from one task to another. Deliberately let go of one thing and move on to the other – if you need to, you can come back to a previous issue later and be there ALL the way.
2. Don’t take criticism as a final judgment
Let’s say your boss tells you that you have permanently damaged a business relationship with a difficult client. You can feel this is damning, even possibly cost you your job. But these are also just people. They have their own needs and agendas and issues and dysfunctions. It is not a judgment about your worth.
Remind yourself that this will not write your future in stone. It’s a current issue and is not forever.
3. Don’t rely on others for a boost
Friends and family will often remind us of how attractive and smart we are. We rely heavily on the opinions of others and this just means we borrow their ego’s, rather than relying on our own. We don’t learn to calm ourselves down and how to handle ourselves. This can be detrimental for your confidence.
Count on yourself to get yourself through the day. Remind yourself of what went well during the day. Plan some downtime with friends later to help ease the stress of what happened, and try to keep yourself busy with a project to distract you from the problem until you’ve managed to find a solution.
Be aware that not all days can be fixed, and sometimes you just have to tolerate or cope with it. Teach yourself about mindfulness.
3. Don’t focus on other people’s shortcomings
If you spend a lot of time on negative things and getting involved in office gossip, this drags you down as well, limiting your growth. I know this, because the moment I start discussing my frustrations at work with my husband, I get negative, angry, and bitter and, for me, it often leads to headaches and lack of sleep. Don’t!
Focus rather on what you should do next. It’s often scary to think about, Use coping tools:
– Stay calm and think before acting.
– Find perspective. Watch the news or open a newspaper. Your problem may not be as big as you think.
– Chill out. Difficult to imagine, but do something to distract you. The answer may come to you while you are knitting a sweater or having dinner with friends.
– Focus on things that are going well to give you motivation to deal with the crisis.
– Get ready for the next crisis. Try to anticipate other problems before they happen, so you will be prepared and can deal with them without being emotional.
4. Most of all, be a little kinder to yourself. Believe that success is earned and not granted. It takes hard work and we learn stamina to hang in there with this mindset. Remember that you can change and prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes.
Trust in yourself.