To err is human….

I have to chuckle…we’ve all heard that before right?

photo credit

If you are in my ‘inner circle’ (and don’t worry if you’re not, it’s no big deal and you are more than welcome to come in), you will know that I have been under extreme (perhaps self-imposed) pressure at work.  I have been handed an amazing opportunity to ‘co-manage’ a project: an international conference hosted by my company.  There are many aspects to this conference….however, my involvement is in 3 areas.  Out of those 3 areas, the one I am so anxious over is the exhibition space (trade show hall).

Yes, you heard right….a 10 foot wide by 8 foot deep space with a dark green backdrop, table, 2 chairs and wastebasket is causing me to sob uncontrollably, shake, and become nauseous throughout the day.  This has been happening for the past 2 weeks. Why, you ask?

I don’t really have an answer.  Well, let me clarify-I don’t have an answer that is going to make sense to you!  I had great intentions starting out and all sorts of ideas: drawings/sketches, items to place within the space, happy co-workers to stand in and discuss business opportunities with other people in the industry.  It was all set……

Or so I thought.

After all the planning, sketching, calling, emails, and conversations (with my co-manager), it was wrong.  Wrong, you say? Simply put, the president didn’t like it. When I say “IT”, I mean everything.  He didn’t like my drawings and sketches, he didn’t like my advertising idea, he didn’t like my concept.  He just didn’ t like it.

Slap in the face.  I have never had anyone ever say to me that they didn’t like ANY part of an idea I have had.  EVER.

And so I stress.  And stress. And stress.

I went back through my notes (that I took from a meeting with the president) with my ‘co’ and met with the designer (again).   I re-vamped, and we both brainstormed on the white board and easel in a boardroom.  I started walking home (weather permitting) for ‘thinking’ time.  I called my mother for ideas. I wrote up something new, sketched something out and met with the designer (yup 3rd time).

So here I sit, with just over 5 weeks until the conference.  Nothing is set in stone at this point and my nerves are shot.  I spent 2 hours today working on information to go into a handout available at the space. I made a schedule of ‘shifts’ for employees working in the space.  I created a spreadsheet of staff  attending the conference with prices attached.  I sent material to my boss, my ‘co’ and the designer for their review. After that, I was exhausted….

I have a meeting with the president and the ‘happy’ employees that (should) will be covering the space and chatting up potential ‘customers.’  I don’t know  how this is going to turn out and besides being wrong about everything so far, that’s the other thing that’s really wearing on me. What will I say to the president? Do I just keep my mouth shut and let him do the talking? Or do I put myself out there (again) knowing that the potential to be ‘wrong’ is there?

I just can’t see it-can’t see the concept, can’t see the design, can’t see the handout, can’t see the happy people, can’t see the extras…and I am wondering if perhaps I am still not ‘over’ the ‘wrong.’  Is that what’s holding me back?

I did what I did when I get upset-I googled. I came upon Seth Godin‘s blog and one interesting recent post.  I had the opportunity to meet Seth when I was in New York City training at Serious Strength.  I haven’t read much of his work, but I was always drawn to his ability to say what I was thinking.  This piece is no different and seems to sum it up perfectly:

The privilege of being wrong

When you are truly living on the edge, walking on the moon, perhaps, or caught in the grip of extreme poverty–there’s no room at all for error. It’s a luxury you can’t afford.

For the rest of us, though, there’s a cushion. Being wrong isn’t fatal, it’s merely something we’d prefer to avoid. We have the privilege of being wrong. Not being wrong on purpose, of course, but wrong as a cost on the way to being right.

As you gain resources, the act of being wrong goes from being fatal to annoying to a precious opportunity, something that you’ve earned. You won’t advance your cause or discover new truths if you’re obsessed with being right all the time–and so the best way to compound your advantage and accomplish even more than you already have is to set out (with relish) to be as open to wrong as often as you can afford to be.

I will most likely continue to shed tears, have stomach trouble, and sweat it out up until the actual conference.  But maybe this is what I need…..

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How do you feel about being “wrong”? Ever made any big mistakes? Do you have any advice for me?

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  • Mama Dukes

    You’re a ‘first-timer’ with this project. The ‘stress’, ‘indecision’, lack of a ‘great’ idea is all part of it. Once you have done 3 or 4 of these, you’ll be a master at knowing where to start and how to find the ‘jump-off’ point. I have confidence in you! The important thing is not to run away simply because you were “wrong” at one point. You will be wrong again, trust me. It will happen, but as your friend says in his article, it is a precious opportunity. It is so freeing when you can finally admit you’re wrong and move on without all the drama. Trust me, I’ve been there and you will, too.

    • meredith

      That all sounds great….I just need that to hop into my brain so I can process it…..

  • Paola

    I think what you may need to understand first is that you haven’t made a mistake at all! these things happen all the time. Maybe you just need to communicate more with him. Ask him as many questions as you want/need to understand what he wants and how he wants it. I’m sure that will help. Making a mistake is something different. My first job with a CEO in Canada, I had to schedule a meeting w/the Prime Minister and my boss… which I did, but marked the wrong date on my boss’ calendar, which caused my boss to miss a great opportunity to meet with him and almost cost me my job. THAT is a mistake. And even then, there’s lots to learn from it. You are doing a great job Managing this job! – you are not Co-Managing, you are managing it all on your own and you are doing great!

    • meredith

      Paola…I hear you but I can’t get it into my brain for some reason!

      I don’t mind this project-I just want to get that ‘excited’ feeling back….like I first had when I started! How do I do that?

  • Liz

    Awwwww… Paola right! You were never wrong to begin with! Just some mis-communication and with some clarification, you’ll be on your way! You’re doing a phenomenal job, and I know the conference will be a HUGE success! Also, don’t forget, you have a strong support system of “happy employees” eager to lend you a helping hand!!! 🙂

    • meredith

      Oh there is a HUGE learning curve here for me!