There is nothing worse than knowing that you have screwed up—big time. That a major mistake happened on your watch and no matter how much you want to be able to “pass the blame,” you can’t.
It’s. Your. Fault.
Raise your hand if you have ever found yourself in a hair-raising experience and the only thing you want to do is:
1. Move, without proving a forwarding address.
2. Call your mommy.
3. Pray that this is a dream.
Five and half years ago I was sitting on my bed breastfeeding my newborn baby (she was four months at the time). There was a torrential storm going on and it was about 4:30 pm when I happened to glance at my calendar. Something piqued my interest—big time. A speaking engagement.
Huh? Did I make a mistake? Why is it written for today @ 6pm? A slow panic began to settle in. I dug through my past emails to find my contacts email. Got it. I scrolled down to get her number and I dialed.
As soon as she said hello, I told her who I was…
“Jennifer, we are super excited to hear your presentation today.” I told her, “Me too, but the weather would have me running a few minutes late…”
It is raining.
I have no babysitter.
I have three kids.
The location is almost an hour away.
My hair is all over my head.
I’ve got to bring all my children with me…who does that?
Then, I start placing the blame. “Why didn’t anyone confirm?” I booked it six months ago and nobody ever called to confirm.
Stop that nonsense Jennifer!!! We are all adults and that is NOT their responsibility... it is yours.
So I had no choice, I had to pull it all together, quickly.
I called my oldest who was 10 at the time and told her, what was going on. “Mommy has a speaking engagement; we are really, really, really late. I’ve got to take all of you and you must babysit. Maybe we can find a conference room or office where you can go."
My daughter stepped up. She helped me find a cute outfit after three quick changes. A cute hat. Or, at least, I thought so at that time. I guarantee if I were to look back now, I would probably be pretty embarrassed. But I rolled with what I had at the time—which so happened to be my first speaking engagement after giving birth to my third child.
We headed out in the torrential rain to a city near the Pennsylvania border. We live in MD. Guess what happened next? You got it. We hit the biggest traffic jam known to mankind. I literally crawled at a snail’s pace as 6pm came and went. I had my daughter call my contact to let her know my status, “I was coming…”
I had no idea how far it was. I had never seen traffic like that. I didn’t own a GPS back then so I was looking at some little piece of paper and listening to a SCREAMING newborn in the back. In my head, I thought, "maybe I should turn around.”
I didn’t. I kept going. I had knots in my stomach. I was nervous. I mean, what do you say when you are still a good 30 minutes away and you were supposed to be on the stage 30 minutes ago.
The calamity of errors didn’t stop. It was awful—every aspect of it. But the entire time I kept thinking one thing: Nobody **CKED this up but me. I must step up and walk through it .
So, I did.
I arrived one hour and 15 minutes after I was supposed to start. I apologized profusely. I set my kids up in an office at the front of the building and told myself the only thing you can do is go on stage and kill it, make it worth their while.
So I hopped up on the stage and annihilated it—but I started by being honest.
The bottom line is **IT is going to happen. It will be uncomfortable. You will be embarrassed. You will want to run and hide. Don’t. Face it. Have integrity. Restore the integrity immediately by admitting and owning your part and doing what you can to make things better. Your reputation is all you have.
Jennifer Ransaw Smith is the Founder of The Personal Elevation Lab™, a division of Brand id | Strategic Partners, a full-service Personal Branding + Elevation Agency. The Personal Elevation Lab™ focuses exclusively on elevating the visibility, credibility, influence and impact of women executives and entrepreneurs: http://www.personalelevation.com. If you are ready to Boost Your Status, sign up for our 30-Day Game Changing Program here.