Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Excerpt from The Mistake Bank book

I've mentioned a Mistake Bank book which I'm currently working on. It's titled, "The Mistake Bank: How to Succeed by Forgiving Your Mistakes and Embracing Your Failures." I have sent a draft of the book to a friend who is editing it for me. Michael Morris is working on illustrations for the book and, most immediately, I will be running a Kickstarter campaign to underwrite the first print run of the book.

Please stay tuned for more information on the Kickstarter project. Please consider supporting the project and sharing the project with your friends and colleagues. Here's a taste of the book from the Introduction:

Many years ago I worked with some great people at GTE in Tampa, Florida. I was on a six-month assignment and, during my last week there, I had a ton of things to do to get ready for my next move to Boston.

That Thursday, I had agreed to meet my friend Phil for lunch, but before that, I rushed over to another part of town to return my cable box. I ran in, dropped the box off, and ran back to my car. There was no car in the space in front of me, so instead of backing out, I zipped forward.

When the tires hit the concrete curb at the front of the parking space, I knew I was in trouble. I took my foot off the gas, but the car didn't stop until the tires had run up and over and the underside of the car had fallen hard onto the curb.

I backed up over the curb again, then out of the parking space. There was a grinding noise from the bottom of the car and it wouldn't go faster than 20 miles per hour. I carefully creeped along the side roads for several miles till I reached the dealer. It took a while for them to look at the car and let me know what needed to be fixed (thankfully, it wasn't bad).

By now I was terribly late for lunch. I went to a pay phone (see how long ago it was?) and called Phil at the restaurant. "I am so sorry, but I won't make it for lunch. You see, my car..."

Phil interrupted. "You need to get to the restaurant now. There are 25 people here for your goodbye lunch."

I hung up, called a cab, and eventually made it to the restaurant. In the dining room, a long stretch of tables was full of empty drink glasses, plates, and about a dozen people who were still there after 90 minutes of waiting. It was a memorable good-bye lunch, for them as well as for me. 

* * *

There are a few lessons I took away from that experience. One is that, as stated by Wharton School researcher Paul Schoemaker, “mistakes make a deep imprint.” I can remember that story in vivid detail more than twenty-five years later. Even as I write this, I can hear the sound of the car’s undercarriage crunching against the curb.

Another is that rushing doesn’t necessarily get things done faster. In fact, it can slow you down significantly.

The final lesson is that friends are precious gifts. That my colleagues would go to the trouble of planning this elaborate surprise lunch, and then hang around long after they’d finished eating to wait for my arrival, is something I’ll never forget.

Three life lessons. All from just one mistake.

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