I Made A Mistake


It was a “hit send too fast” email. And it wasn’t even a huge mistake, more like a silly “I wasn’t paying close enough attention” kind of mistake. Which is of course exactly what happened.I have been obsessing over it for a day and feel the need to explain myself (to myself?). Here are the FACTS:

Fact 1

Beth Nyland and I have been madly preparing for a big trip to teach and work at a client expo. We have our own booth so there has been a lot of merch to design and order, discussion starters to create, relationship building prompts to write, orange footwear to buy…we leave tomorrow so yesterday was hectic. Very hectic. On top of everything, I had clients and prospects all emailing me on a Friday to set up meetings.

Fact 2

In my haste to knock things off my todo list, I responded to an email about meeting dates with a client and realized–too late–that I had confused the meetings and that my response probably made no sense to them.This client happens to be one of our favorites. Their team absolutely ate up our workshops, they’ve joined us here on LinkedIn, and they are truly a team: generous, kind to each other, creative, and want to improve their communications.

Fact 3

My wise friend, Jill Salzman, commanded me to read this book: Stolen Focus, by Johann Hari. Since I do pretty much what she tells me to, I started reading the book. I found it to be a little bit of a slog at first. I was having trouble sticking with it and found myself skimming the pages.Which is what the book is about: how technology, our phones, and the people who run the Internet have stolen our focus, made it increasingly difficult to pay attention, have us convinced we can do more than one thing at a time, and made us hate the “other.”

Fact 4

On “Mistake Day,” I was doing these things all at once: reading the latest crop of emails to come in, trying to figure out how much my suitcase can weigh (holding all the merch), scheduling meetings, and trying to talk myself into going to the gym.You guessed it. One of those scheduling tasks was the subject of my mistake. My focus had been stolen and I wasn’t concentrating enough to do one thing at a time. All the meetings I was scheduling got mixed up in my head and I was responding too quickly.

Fact 5

This post is a Mea Culpa. It’s also me trying to make myself feel better and stop the constant rumination on how I messed up.More importantly, it’s a perfect example of Hari’s argument: we must get back to focusing on one thing at a time, rebuilding our ability to pay attention, and letting our minds wander so our brains can once again make unexpected connections that lead to creativity.Fact 6I’m only halfway through the book but after I got over the initial Oh sh!t feelings, I began to think about my future. How I want to spend my time the next few years and how I very much want to get back to walking aimlessly down Lincoln Avenue peeking into local boutiques, spending hours at a coffee shop with nothing but my notebook and pen, and reading a whole novel on a Sunday because I couldn’t put it down.

What Now?

I hope the client will forgive my error. I also hope that sharing my own fallibility will help us all to talk more about this. We must stop telling ourselves that our screen hours are time well spent and relearn how to pay attention.

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