I remember when I was hired as an EA to a Senior VP back in 1986. I felt like such a fraud. I was woefully underqualified, but fortunately, I knew my VP from working with him in the past, and I had a good reputation.
Every second Friday, someone for HR would deliver the pay stubs to our desk. Each time I received one, I remember thinking, “Holy cow, they are still paying me!” I kept expecting that they would realize that I was flying by the seat of my pants, and escort me out the door.
They never did. I continue to grow with that company until I started ON THE RIGHT TRACK in 1993.
But back then, I didn’t have the confidence to realize that I was doing a good job. I kept worrying about all the things that I was doing wrong. I kept thinking that the next time I screwed up was going to be the last as I would surely get fired.
When we focus on the negative, we have a hard time seeing any positive that can come from it. I focused on all the things I was doing wrong instead of what I was doing right and what I was learning from my mistakes.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”tjU2S” via=”yes” ]When we focus on the negative, we have a hard time seeing any positive that can come from it. Here is how to find the positive in the situation. XX[/ctt]
However, looking at the outcome of the negative situation can become positive. Sometimes our imagination is much worse than reality. When we look back and see the situation outside of the moment, we often see that the consequences aren’t as bad as we imagined they would be.
Keep an “Oops” journal.
An Oops journal is very similar to a gratitude journal, where we list all the things that went well for us each day, or kudos file where we keep special note of the things others have commended us for.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”d57DP” via=”yes” ]Do you have an “Oops” journal? Here is how and why you need one.[/ctt]
Your Oops journal will look like this:
– Put the date the Oops happens. We tend to think that we make big mistakes a lot more frequently than we really do.
When you look back on your journal, you may realize that something you thought was an oops at the time isn’t that big of a deal after the fact. You may laugh at yourself and realize that you’ve overreacted to something that wasn’t that big of an oops at all.
– What happened? Just write it out in a couple of sentences. You won’t need a lot of detail. If it were that horrible, you would remember the details. If you don’t remember the details later on, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
– What were the consequences? Again, just a couple of sentences are all that is needed. Perhaps there were none, or maybe it was an uncomfortable conversation with your boss. List what happened and how you felt.
– What would you do differently if this happened again? This is important as it shows our “learning” from our oops. If you put yourself in the same situation again, what would you do differently to ensure you didn’t create another oops? If you wouldn’t do anything differently, ask yourself if you did mess up, or if it was a fluke that things went wrong.
What you’ll discover is that over the space of time, you’ll realize that you likely overreact and “awfulize” what happened. You expected that the mistake you made was substantial, and there will be significant consequences.
When you review your journal, you’ll likely realize that it wasn’t nearly as horrible as you thought it was.
If it was horrible, then writing the details down will allow you to remember the details accurately and hopefully help you avoid something similar the next time.
Naturally, there are other things we need to do, such as apologize, rectify the situation, etc. (which is the subject for another article). This oops journal is for you, to help keep things in perspective, and to learn from our mistakes as well.
I didn’t keep an Oops journal way back then, but I wish I had. I wish I could look back on some of the mistakes that I made and laugh at myself. Laugh because I realize the mistakes that kept me up at night weren’t really that big of a deal, or laugh at how far I’ve come.
What I would have realized is that I never did get fired, I never was severely reprimanded, and I clearly have a big imagination.
PS – I wish I kept one as a new mother too! I would love to share the details of how I messed up when I had babies. My kids turned out just fine. They weren’t big Oops’ after all!