I’m Sorry

Last month I got a personal lesson about making a public mistake. While emailing the September issue of this newsletter, I had a technology meltdown resulting in an email containing my address book being sent to everyone. I got a number of emails from people who were understandably angry/annoyed. A number of people requested to be opted-out from future emails. I responded to each email personally. It was a personal disaster for me, since I’m quite tech-savvy and such things should “never” happen to me.

When I realized the mistake, I had a couple of options: 1) ignore it and hope that if I didn’t bring someone’s attention to it then perhaps no one would notice or 2) email everyone and tell them what happened, why, and why it should never happen again. I chose #2 (but some part of me wanted to close my eyes and simply pretend it never happened) believing that if I honestly apologized people would realize that mistakes do happen and forgive me.

It seems that technology continues to be a double-edged sword in business. On one hand you can send one email to hundreds of people with a single button press, which is very efficient. However, with this power comes a responsibility to ensure care. Years ago I used an email program that allowed you to un-send emails (if they weren’t yet read) – it was a feature that allowed me to “save face” on occasion. It’s a feature sorely missing in “modern” email programs.

As a business owner, you’re very busy answering the phone, correspondence, email, etc. Your attention is split between the job at hand and the 10 more you need to do by days’ end. You’re trying to do it all, do it perfectly, and …. something slips. Perhaps it’s a small goof. Now what?

With the acceleration of modern life and prevalence of multi-tasking, the creep of imperfection increases. You can’t help it – there’s simply no way to do more in less time and still get perfect results (whatever that means).

What I’ve learned is I need to do less, not more. If you do less, you can focus better on the fewer things that need doing. But it comes at a trade-off, fewer clients, fewer phone calls, less time reading emails.

Life is about balance. So is work.

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