I f’d up


I messed up at work. And while it wasn’t the sort of mistake that puts people lives or health in jeopardy, it did make my company look really stupid. And when the company’s reputation is at stake people high up in the company suddenly care a lot about an application that until that time they had no idea existed. When the problem was brought to my attention, my stomach dropped. Oh shit. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. And it is entirely, 100% my fault.

My boss was being pretty cool about it, as was the project manager. It was a very simple mistake that was made in haste. Of the 300 or so of this type of action, the fact that only one went wrong is pretty darn good. But, the problem had been escalated far up in the company and now everything I touched was to be examined under a microscope. I had nothing to hide, but it hurt to be seen as suspect, as incompetent.

One of the eight worldly concerns in Buddhism, is attachment to good reputation. And I have that in spades. I’m fairly attached to the positive image I want others to see: smart, competent and responsible. It’s how I see myself in my work life, and for the most part that has been validated by others. However, there are less stellar aspect to my work self: lazy, disorganized and easily bored. So, with the positive image being questioned, I feel like all my negative traits are being exposed and being discussed behind closed doors. Simplistic, paranoid thinking? You betcha!

The first apology I gave to everyone was sincere. I feel awful that people are getting flack and having to answer for my mistake. However, the subsequent apologies are more of a request for absolution. My friends and colleagues have all related their fuck ups in effort to make me feel better. They have some doozies, where it could have impacted upon people’s actual health care. In the big picture, my error wasn’t so bad. But, still, it feels really bad.

In a day or two this will all blow over. But, I need to learn a bit of humility from this. There were ways this could have been prevented, but I was too bored and lazy to double check all my work, figuring I would have gotten it right the first time. I hope to regain my reputation at work, but I have to remember that I shouldn’t completely believe my own PR.

11 responses »

  1. ugh… LB, i’m sorry. God I’ve been there before. I made a $65,000 mistake one time at work. ugh. makes me sick to think of it still. And like you said, all of a sudden it made me feel like everyone was talking behind my back and all my faults were on the skyline.

    It eventually blew over and everyone got back to thinking of me as the stud that I actually am. šŸ™‚

    ok, I got back to thinking of myself as the stud I think i am.

  2. Oh well, these things have a lot of value actually, from a Buddhist perspective. Currently, I’m enjoying a real high at work, with immense amounts of success and acclaim. I know only too well that this is usually anteceded by a mighty fall, especially if one actually allows oneself to be deceived into thinking one really is super-talented and uber-efficient. We learn much more from our failures.

  3. This all rang completely true to me. I experience f ups the same way. It hurts deeply on many levels. You feel flayed.

    This shall pass, life’s like that.

  4. Part of the ‘ouch’ is suddenly feeling so visible and vulnerable. It creates a rethinking of how one looks at oneself. And it is much more comfortable not to do that.

    However, you are an exceedingly remarkable person, and that is what people know and will think of about you.

    If you didn’t FEEL this, you wouldn’t be you.

    The spotlight of the Spotlight Dance (reference: American Bandstand) passes along to someone else.

    End of cliches. Hugs.

  5. Thanks to all of you for the good wishes and empathy. Yes, Corina, I’ve tried to learn from this. And as Ron says, we learn more from our mistakes than we do our triumphs. Stevo, that’s a good description – flayed. I feel like I’ve been sliced open with all my ugly bits displayed to the world (hence, the ouch factor, Shu). But, damn Jules, $65,000? Now, that does make me feel better. šŸ™‚ My mistake was a wee bit of bad PR to a relatively small number of customers and $2000 of unnecessary print and mailing costs.

    But, I think the spotlight may have already moved off of me . . . at least for that mistake. I got in deep doodoo with a colleague today for what I thought was funny. She didn’t. Oops.

  6. yeah, it was horrible. I was a print buyer for a financial group and we were printing a group of items that had disclaimer language that was added that I didn’t make sure was there at the press check. I and another co-worker took the hit on that one.

  7. Wow, when you own up to something you really own up to it. I think that’s admirable (not to mess up your personal PR, or anything) but I’ve rarely seen anyone acknowledge and take full responsibility for a mistake so openly.

  8. Good explication. The other thing I find is that everyone is so busy filming their own movies in their heads (and we’re all the stars of our own movies) that stuff slides off to oblivion kind of quick.

    So long as the f’ups don’t keep happening, of course!

    But now I’m curious. What did you find funny that coworker didn’t?

  9. Yes Amurin, in addition to being smart, compentent and responsible, I am downright noble. Gee, can you tell I’m getting over my boo-boo? Oh right, that lessson about humility. How quickly we forget.

    OmbudsBen – yeah, the spotlight probably wasn’t as bright as it felt in my own head.

    Re: my colleague? She deserves a post of her own. She’s an odd one, that’s for sure. Sometimes she’s odd in a really good way, but other times, not so good.

  10. This kind of thing is so painful, and so necessary sometimes to wake us up out of our complacent rut. I performed a great one last year, where I put someone’s house on the market for $50K less than they’d actually listed it for. An offer came in right away, needless to say. The scary thing was that I didn’t realize my mistake until I got in front of the seller with the offer, and I was all, “Hurrah, we got a full price offer!” and he was like, “What the hell are you talking about?”

    I still break out in a sweat when I think about that one. The only excuse I have is that my grandmother had died the same day I was doing this, but even that isn’t a great excuse, since I wasn’t close to her and she’d been ill for three years. It was the card I played with the seller,though, begging my grandmother’s soul to forgive me for using her as a sympathy gambit to avoid getting sued.

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