The road to success is paved with failure.— Rashida Rowe
I thought of this quote the other day as I sat at my client’s place of business, trying to figure out how to undo a mistake I had made in their database.
It wasn’t a massive mistake, it was a relatively small one. I am working with this client to assist in their fundraising efforts at the critical year-end giving timeframe while their organization is going through staffing changes and transitions. I had made a record-keeping error, uploading hundreds of recent gifts to their prior year’s campaign, not the current year’s. There was no one to ask about how to fix this as all of the database knowledge had walked out the door with their previous employee.
A couple of things I’ve learned about the mistakes I’ve made in my career:
- Most mistakes can be fixed. The first step is to admit that you made a mistake so you can start working on a solution. Thankfully I’m not a brain surgeon so my mistakes don’t result in someone dying. That perspective is also helpful and keeps a person from panicking.
- Walk away for a while to think things through. There’s a reason why some of the best ideas come when people aren’t looking for them. I took the opportunity to step away, get some food (it was around lunch time anyways), change my scenery for a while. The solution came to me while I was driving back to the office.
- Trust yourself. Tell yourself “I am capable of solving things.” I know this about myself because — don’t act surprised — I’ve made mistakes before and fixed them. Or, I had someone show me how to fix messes I’ve made and now I know how NOT to make those particular mistakes again.
After getting some food and fresh air I returned to the task of fixing the error and dabbled in this new-to-me database. Thankfully I have a host of screw-ups I’ve done in other databases in my past that I could rely on for experience. Within 30 minutes I had crafted a solution, tested it out and voila! Fixed. And now I know how to query data and run mass updates in another software system. Imagine that, new knowledge that I got from making and fixing a mistake! That’s success right there.