Learning from Embarrassing Screw Ups
Learning from Embarrassing Screw Ups
As they say, perfection is the enemy of progress. So how should we, as entrepreneurs, handle screw ups early on in starting a business? I’m sharing my personal recent experience with my mistakes while launching the EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast.
When you start a business, it’s impossible to get through the early days without letting mistakes happen. As an entrepreneur, you have your hand on so many different moving parts that it’s extremely difficult to apply 100% attention to everything. Screw ups will happen. But you can’t let that detract you from continuing forward with your vision. As they say, perfection is the enemy of progress.
This past week, I let a couple errors slip through the cracks and make their way publicly onto the podcast. There was a clip of an interview that should not have been included and the guest that week was the one to point out the error. Even now, I’m frustrated and embarrassed that I let it happen. I am my own harshest critic when it comes to these things and the mental and verbal barrage against myself can often become pretty repulsive. That said, everything in life is a learning lesson, and I’m treating this as such.
So how should we, as entrepreneurs, handle screw ups early on in starting a business?
Put out the Fire
First thing’s first, correct the issue and admit you’re human. There is little use in letting anger overtake you and waste precious time from fixing the matter at hand. As the leader of your business, you are in charge of building it. Your actions in the early days establish the cultural foundation that everything else is predicated upon. It’s okay to not tolerate nonsense. It’s not okay if it's at the expense of getting the work done.
In my instance, instead of getting mad, I immediately reached out to my audio engineer and we had the correct audio uploaded and pushed out in a matter of minutes. It didn’t prevent the error from being noticed, but we did what needed to be done in order to correct it.
Second — apologize. Reach out to the people who have been wronged and ask for forgiveness. My philosophy on business and in life is that you never want to make the other person look bad. It’s why you’ll likely never see me engage in the world of politics. My role is to get the other party comfortable and to make them shine. Think of others before self, especially as a host and interviewer.
Anytime your actions, whether intentionally or unintentionally, imply the opposite to be true, you need to take pause, realign, and take corrective action.
Thankfully my guest on the podcast was forgiving and understanding. Deal with the issue and admit it should have never happened. Asking for forgiveness is a virtue worth practicing.
Own your Mistake
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again when it comes to your business, no one will ever care about it as much as you do. Because of this, the responsibility for its success ultimately falls on you.
Former Navy Seal and Author of Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink likes to say, “There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”
Any success, any errors made, they come back to you. Don’t blame it on your staff, your circumstances, or any other factor; take ownership over your actions. At the end of the day, you are the entrepreneur, the founder, and the owner. So everything comes back to you. Take responsibility.
Screw-ups are embarrassing and no one likes being embarrassed. The feeling emits a frustrating sense of "you’re not good enough." But when the mistakes happen, let the embarrassment sink in. Remember the bitter taste that it leaves in your mouth and use it to make sure that the same mistake never happens again.
Running a startup is a crash course lesson on the daily rituals of failing.
You’re going to fail, and you’ll do it over and over in the course of your career. Successful entrepreneurs don’t get defeated by failure, they rise above it every time. Sometimes they even seek it out. It’s not because entrepreneurs possess some unique skill set that others don’t have, they simply choose not to let failures bring them down. At the end of the day, we’re all human.
This won’t be the last time I screw up, and in the grand scheme of things, my errors this past week are relatively insignificant compared to mistakes in the future. All I can really do is learn from my experience, count my blessings, and keep going. It will all be okay.