F*cking up at work: What to do when you screwed up.

I’ve f*cked up at work. You f*cked up at work. We’ve all f*cked up at one point in our professional career.

How do you get over that sickening feeling that comes over you when the ball drops? A chain of thoughts go across your mind, over-running rationale and logic, before you can even grasp the true magnitude of the scenario. You’re probably already jumping to the worst case scenario.

There goes my reputation.

I let my boss and team down.

Am I going to get fired?

I learned that when you know that you screwed something up at work, there are a few things you must do:

1. Take a short walk. Drink water. Breath. Do not cry.
2. Assess the magnitude of damage.
3. Find a potential solution.
4. Loop your manager in with the assessment and contingency plan.
5. Execute on said plan.
6. Implement a better process to ensure that it won’t happen again.

We always think about the worst case scenario to prepare ourselves emotionally for the worst. However, this only prevents us from focusing on what can be fixed. In addition, we are our own worst critics. You would beat yourself for missing a deliverable when it is not the end of the world. It’s bad, but not to the level you are hitting yourself over and over again.

Nowadays, I change my mindset by thinking “This isn’t too bad. Anything can be fixed. It could be worse.” Having this in mind allows me to decrease the time spent self-deprecating and increase more proactive, solution-oriented thoughts. It is hard to think that way, but that’s part of growing more resilience in the face of adversity.

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