Let me explain.
First of all, I am married to the king of systems and operations. My husband, Tim, is very type A and is always on time and usually too early. It was very atypical that we were running 5 minutes late to a formal military wedding that was 10 minutes away, but even worse was the fact that Tim was officiating. After going through clearance we realized that we had to ride a shuttle to the location and that put us another 10 minutes behind.
When we arrived, we were met by a very anxious and angry groom standing alone in a parking lot full of cars. Turns out we were not 15 minutes late. We were 1 HOUR AND 15 MINUTES late! The entire wedding party and attendees were already seated waiting for the Pastor to show up. (He accidentally put in the wrong time in his phone.) Normally I would secretly savor this moment because it’s usually me that makes us a little late.
We walked into the most hostile environment and although I had never met these people, I was ushered up to the front row with the family like a lamb to the slaughter. The tension was palpable, and I wanted to die.
Hang on, there’s more.
I was seated next to an aunt of the bride and she made it known by her expression that she was disgusted by our tardiness. Imagine Cruella de Vil meets menopausal Judge Judy. My husband launches into the ceremony flustered and confused. After officiating hundreds of weddings in his 40+ year career, he floundered the vows and gave the groom a new name.
I’m not even finished. Standby.
During the sacred sand ceremony somebody’s phone rings. And not just a nice telephone ring. The ring tone played loud and clear, “BOOTY BOOTY BOOTY BOOTY ROCKIN’ EVERYWHERE! I FOUND YOU, MS. NEW BOOTY! GET IT TOGETHER AND BRING IT BACK TO ME!” You can imagine the relief I felt that somebody else was contributing to the chaos of this glorious event, until I realized that it was coming from my phone. That’s right, my teenage daughter thought it would be hilarious to change my ring tone. (Thank you very much, Shara. You are grounded for life.) The chorus played 3 times before I realized it was my phone and could turn it off.
Here’s the deal. We messed up in a huge way but learned a few things in the process:
- NEVER trust your child with your cell phone. No explanation necessary.
- You are human, not a robot. There will be times you fail in epic ways but you must pick yourself up, dust your feet off and start over.
- Fail Forward. James 3:2 says, “we all stumble in many things…” Learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them if possible but give yourself grace if you do. God uses our failures to cultivate and develop our character and purpose.
- Remember that people better relate to your failures than your success. The best leadership example is an authentic one, so use the heck out of your stories for illustrations! You will be able to laugh with those who empathize and understand them.
- Give grace to those you lead. Our teams and staff have tough days, too. They have families and distractions that can create the perfect storm. Show them grace and encourage them along the way.
Of the five suggestions above, which one do you feel you need to work on with yourself and with those you lead?