Two weeks ago when I was in Johannesburg with one of my bosses, we went for a meeting at another company. When entering the premises, the guard asked me to sign a slip of paper. It had a lot of print on it and I was about to sign when the guard said, “Don’t sign on the bottom line. Please sign on the top line”. I did. When leaving the premises, I handed the slip back and the guard told me “You didn’t sign here.” Pointing to the bottom line. Then he said “You can go but just bear that in mind for next time”. I said to him, “Earlier you told me not to sign there and now you say I should have had”. The guard smiled and said “It’s fine for today but bear it in mind for next time.” I drove off and turned to my boss and said self righteously “That guy told me not to sign there and when leaving he says I should have signed on that line” My boss politely said “I think when going in you sign the top part and when leaving you sign the bottom part”. All I could say was “Oh, really?”. I quickly asked myself “What’s the lesson?” I muttered “Pay attention to detail”. I’m in this wonderful habit I learnt from Dr John Demartini that when I mess up, instead of beating myself up, I should ask what the lesson was and learn it because if I don’t the lesson will be repeated – sometimes in a big way.
Last week Friday, at the Friday team breakfast my boss read paragraphs from Robin Sharma’s Greatness Guide that talked about paying attention to detail. I heard it but dismissed it that “I look at the bigger picture. Others can look at the details”.
This morning I asked a colleague why our appointment did not show in my calendar and he said it was because I had set it for last Saturday! Since I don’t work on Saturdays, I was surprised at how I could do that. I had set the appointment quickly on Friday afternoon. I meant to set it for Monday. I asked myself “What’s the lesson?”
Two hours later I typed an email to a colleague who arranged my trip to Johannesburg to ask where I could find my accommodation details. Just when I was about to hit send I thought “let me look at the time I’ll be coming back”. The returning time was 21:00 hours the same day! I thought “I ought to pay attention to detail”.
My main focus this morning had been on a presentation I was to make in the afternoon. Two weeks ago I was asked to make a presentation for the orientation of new staff today. I prepared and prepared. I spent most of last week reading and practising. I spent most of the morning today polishing up. When it was 13:00 hours I went for lunch and came back to my desk after 15 minutes. I practised some parts again and felt confident. Since I was all ready, I checked some emails. I glanced at the time again and it was 13:49. I opened my calendar to confirm the venue only to find that my appointment was at 13:00 hours!!!
I rushed to the venue while thinking of what I was going to say for being so late within the same building. What did I do? Did I beat myself up? Of course, I did! I’m only a month old at the company! (Lesson still not fully learnt. At least the beating up lasts a few minutes as opposed to hours and days!) I got in there and apologised saying I thought our appointment was at 14:00hrs. (Of course I felt terrible even saying that!). My boss said it was OK. I spent the first 5 minutes thinking “How could I make such a mistake? What did my boss think of me? What did the new person think of me?” The noise quietened and I asked myself again “What is the lesson?” The lesson was very loud and clear – “Pay attention to detail!” The lesson had been repeated in a major way because despite recognising and being taught the lesson, I did not learn it. This lesson is vital for me as I take on more responsibility. I cannot afford to just sign documents without reading them. I cannot afford to not look at times for meetings or flights.
Are you like me? Do you get the same things happening to you? Could it be that you’re not getting the lesson? Growth occurs when we learn lessons! Life is easy because it has feedback mechanisms.
Be awesome! Have a life is easy day!