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Bad day at the office

I often tell my law students about one of my bad days in the office when I was a young solicitor.     I was appearing in a local court in the suburbs of Sydney (outside my CBD comfort zone).

In law language the matter before the court was a really, really simple technical issue.    The type of thing that only requires a 2 minute explanation and is usually done and dusted in 5 minutes.

I was fully prepared, knew what I wanted from the court and had a good knowledge of the facts of the case.   I turned up bright and early because I was unfamiliar with the court  layout and the “local” process.  My matter was set down for 9.00 a.m.    Turns out part of that local process was dealing with every single local matter before my matter got on.

There was a huge array of problems before the court that day and over 80 matters went before mine.    So I sat patiently waiting for my turn.    Then I cruised the coffee shop drinking coffee before resuming my wait.   Then I waited and waited …..At some point my mind moved to fairyland where I completely zoned out and forgot about the court system, and no doubt, knowing me I was probably dreaming of chocolate.

By this time, the Judge feeling sorry for me,  suggested that I cut in with my little matter.

And then it happened    

I opened my mouth to speak.  Nothing happened. I completely forgot what I wanted, why I was there and luckily the judge knew my name because otherwise I would not have known that either.    I had a court room of eyes on me and all I could do was stutter and stumble around trying to figure out what I was doing.    I was embarrassed, blushing and stunned that all my planning, knowing the case, arriving early, getting to know the court had all come undone.   The memory is engraved on my brain.   So many things flashed before me that day, thoughts of the court room of  people staring, frustrated by me delaying them, the fear of leaving the court without having made my argument and coming back to work empty handed,  the humiliation at telling the client I had stuffed up, the dread of having to return again to make my argument.

The judge felt sorry for me and suggested a 10 minute break so I could prepare and go back on.  I was surprised that he allowed me the time considering the length of the court list that day and the abrubt manner he’d dealt with previous matters.    The break was a godsend.  I quickly regrouped and went back to the court and came away with what I had wanted.

I learnt a number of things from that experience:

1) always have a checklist for even the most simple tasks  – it could be a court appearance or building a website, the concept is always the same.  One day you will have a bad day at the office.   A day where things just go wrong no matter how prepared you are.

2) everyone has a bad day at the office one day.   But the people around you have the opportunity to either show compassion or throw salt in the wounds.    You learn a lot about the people that you want in your life when  you have a bad day in the office.  Negativity is easy to dish out but empathy and support are just as easy and have a positive impact.

A few weeks ago, I realised that the love of my life had had a bad day in the office too.  He forgot to renew one of my domains and went straight to the dog house.   I was absolutely devastated.    The domain had been re-sold.   I felt bad about the name but David felt worse.    Whenever I looked at him I couldn’t possibly say anything because he felt worse than me.  He was stressed and anxious. He was thinking about what he could do all day and how he could make it “right”.   That just made him more stressed and anxious.   If he hadn’t already shaved his head I think he would have gone bald 🙂   He tried all he could to get that name back until I said, “Stop.   It doesn’t matter.  You are more important to me than the domain name. I can always do something else”.

What I learnt from this:

1) if a domain is important to you make sure you check the auto renew box 🙂

2) always have a Plan B.   I do have a back up site for the domain that I lost so although it’s not the same it’s better than nothing.  If there’s no Plan B at least have other options.  Sometimes, a mistake can also make you think of other opportunities and other ways of doing things.

3) often people that make a mistake will feel worse than you could ever imagine.  Like the judge years ago, you have a choice in how you deal with the mistakes you make and the mistakes other people around you make.

4) you need to make your own mistakes and learn from them.  I can’t imagine a domain not being renewed anytime soon 🙂

5) most importantly, mistakes happen.

Learn from your mistakes
  • what could you do differently?
  • what systems can you put in place to avoid them or at least reduce the damage?
  • does this mistake open up any opportunities for you?
Learn about the people around you

There are people that will support you when you make mistakes and those that will rub salt in the wound.   Choose which ones you want to spend time with.


Some people like to give you “feedback” about your mistakes.    Feedback is great.  I’m always happy to get genuine feedback because it helps me understand what I should be doing, what I should be doing less of,  what people’s tastes are and what people are looking for.    I’m always happy to learn and happy to learn from my mistakes as well.  However, some people think that feedback is an invitation to be  mean spirited and unconstructive.   That’s not feedback no matter how you label it.

Move on

At the end of the day,  no matter how small or large the mistake you need to move on.  Some people become so fearful of making mistakes that they miss out on life and new opportunities.    Everyone makes mistakes the real challenge is how quick you learn, recover and move on.

About Leanne

My name is Leanne King and I'm an Australian internet marketer and WordPress fanatic. I share my knowledge of WordPress here on my blog, through my products, private coaching and in private forums. In my spare time I like to develop products for WordPress users that are easy to use.Find me on Google+

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