A Big Let Down...


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If you've ever screwed up at work...

You'll probably FEEL this post somewhere down in your guts...

Just a few hours ago... I had a rather unpleasant experience.

And just to be real... It wasn't ANY fun.

It was humbling.

But I decided to share it, thinking it might help me get the emotions off my chest.

And maybe even help someone else in the process.

So... If you're interested...

Here we go:


There it is.

It's that feeling...

Like standing at the bottom of a deep ocean...

The overwhelming pressure bearing down on me so hard it's as if my soul is suffocating. My stomach turns. And all I can hear is my heart pumping in my ears...

"What should I say?"

My brain tries to serve up whatever words will fix the problem—drawing from the deepest wells available.

But even though I'm being crushed by a sea of thoughts... I come up dry for answers.

"I should have listened to myself..." I think, as I backpedal and stammer my way through the mess. Trying desperately to retain some semblance of professionalism.

What is this???


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Is a moment of failure...

It's the moment when you know you've made a mistake. But it's too late to go back.

There's nothing left to do but ride it out. To hope you can navigate your way through the storm without sustaining too much damage.

Your desperate hands reach down, grasping at the pieces of your disintegrating raft as you try to hold it together.

"If I can just ride out the storm... I can find a desert island... Maybe I can fix this..."

But you feel in your heart that things will never be the same... That some of these changes are irreversible...

At least...

That's how I felt after getting off the phone with a client earlier today.

You see, my job is one that requires a delicate balance between the two (very different) worlds of unabashed creativity—and carefully bridled, cold, and calculated analysis.

If either one of the two components overtakes the other...

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Then the value of my work takes a heavy nose-dive to the bottom of the sea.

You know... The one I was kissing the floor of earlier...

So... Guess what happened over the weekend?


I spent a few HOURS in the territory of "completely unbridled creativity"...

Meaning that:

My client's goals took a back seat while my 'creative' mind went into a state of "deep work."

And when I finally emerged from my tantrum, I held in my exhausted hands a piece of work, which to my befuddlement...

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Wasn't something my client had actually ASKED me to do.

And of course... All of this was on the clock and at their expense...

And because their happiness is important to me... This all means I would be delivering a quick refund of a couple hundred bucks...

Time... Totally wasted... Both for myself and my client.

But that's NOT the part that bothers me.

Forget about the money!

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That's the last thing on my list of concerns. What's really important to me—is the health of the relationship. Which up to that point was doing INCREDIBLY well...

The "big letdown" wasn't just that I let myself down. It was that I let my amazing client down.

And I know, even after delivering the refund of that work, my client's image of me is damaged.

The trust they had put in me was damaged.

And as I float on my damaged raft, I can only hope to pick up the pieces over time.

And you know what...??

That Totally SUCKS...

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So, after an hour-long meeting discussing the next items on the list, we got off the phone.

In a way, I was relieved because I had been assigned a TRUCKLOAD of new tasks (which tells me the hit to my image must not have been irreparable).

But that didn't change the way I felt much.

I needed to regroup... And I found myself resigning to the softness of the bed beside my wife.

There I laid beside that wonderful woman (who had just heard the whole embarrassing conversation)... searching the silence for consolation over the next 20 minutes.

She hardly said a word. She knew.

She's good like that.

I closed my eyes. Took a breath. And prepared to battle the demons of regret, fear, and the persistent desire to pretend like I don't care.

As if somehow that would change the truth.

Because I DO care...


...And caring is hard.

It brings us to junctures like the one I found myself standing before, feeling nearly paralyzed. But this wasn't just an actionless crossroads.

This was the meeting point for two powerful forces on a field that would be covered with my own blood.

It was the place where the battle would be fought for my morale.

Where I would strive against myself to keep my head held high in a moment of defeat. And to remember that life isn't made up of a single battle.

Life is a war.

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And it's won with one hand buried in hope and the other wrapped around the hilt of persistence.

It's won when you embrace humility and replace pride for the valiant pursuit of meaningful change...

Even though that change is painful. Even though your stomach is full with the dregs of uncertainty.

Because every second of fear and doubt endured without losing hope is a brick laid in the strongest fortress.

Because every time you stand back up it's like hurling a giant stone at the forces that stand against a better future.

So, I want to wrap this up by saying...

If you've ever had your own "Big Let Down"...

I feel you...

Hold on and fight another day. Take it one battle at a time.

Rebuild your raft one stick at a time if you have to. But don't give up.

The fight against the storm and tempest will strengthen your hands to build a ship that doesn't sink.

Lay the foundation of your future with bricks of resilience and mortar it with hope.

See you on the battlefield...