Shit. I’ve made a mistake.
So you’ve made a mistake - now what?! Well we’ve all been there, so don’t stress and try not to beat yourself up about it. No one is perfect and if you don’t make mistakes in life, you’ll never learn and grow, so here’s our position on how to handle it..
At our recent EA panel event the ‘making a mistake’ theme came up like it usually does, and the common theme from our experienced panellists was “own it, fix it, learn from it and move on!” Great advice right, but how do you not beat yourself up over it?
Well let’s be honest, it will probably haunt you for at least a week if it was a real ‘doozy’, and because most of us are perfectionists you’ll feel guilty about it and it will take a hit at your confidence level – that’s totally normal – but if you’ve handled it professionally and proactively with your manager and either fixed or resolved it, then all you can do is you learn from it and in time you’ll feel better and move on, but guess what, we doubt that you’ll ever make that same mistake again!
As assistants are generally people with the traits of perfectionism, super organisers & people pleasers, we are often really good at multitasking and being ‘yes men’ – we are rarely good at or able to say ‘no’ when we have too much on – this a whole other conversation topic around managing & setting expectations and how to say no – read one of our other blogs about this! So because we usually have so much on our plates, this can sometimes lead to a mistake or two being made (even though we are super human with how much we can actually handle!).
Now everyone makes mistakes, but we feel that mistakes made by EA’s are either (weirdly) unexpected by our co-workers & bosses, or are more likely to be seen because of our roles & work being highly visible, because the nature of our role is to support others. So, how do we NOT beat ourselves up over mistakes and dwell on them, or put ourselves down by our own worst critics - ourselves!?
1 - think of a time (listen, we know there are many!) our execs have made mistakes. They are at the top of their game running bloody companies and you bet they make mistakes ALL. THE. TIME. So, how do you see them handle it?
2 - get it out of your head, go to a trusted, (and we stress - TRUSTED) colleague and get it out of your head and into words. Have a coffee and be like “oops I did this today” often they will help you to see we all do it and as long as we own it and fix it, it’s not a big deal.
3 - email us: anything you send us is confidential and GIIRRLLL you know we can send you back a list of things we’ve done over the years and still kept employment!
4 - learn from it! Perhaps it was a brain fart (we all have them) or maybe it was a major stuff up (the best of us have had them!). Look for the lesson: have I taken too much on (again)? Do I need to focus more? Should I do this in a quiet room? Should I get someone to double check my work? Find how/why it happened an implement a strategy or process for it not to happen again.
It’s all in how you handle it - trust us! It is easy for some people to think that lying about making a mistake is a better choice, but coming clean, owning it, saying “unfortunately this has happened, I am (or have) fixed the (said problem) and have now put this process in place so it doesn’t happen again”.
Remember that you are only human, and no one on the face of the earth has ever NOT made a mistake in their life. Surround yourself with people who keep it real, own their mistakes and grow from them, and if you have people in your circle who tell you that they’ve never made a mistake and act like they are the perfect person or Assistant, then they are flat-out lying and we urge you to find new people for your circle and to look up to!
Nis & Sarah