Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dealing with Mistakes with Sincerity and Grace

The past few months have been so life changing for me - I've made the choice to bring intention into my business plan, and I have some big changes happening behind the scenes. While I am really excited about the great things that are happening for my business, I don't want to mislead you and have you think that gorgeous custom projects and pretty features are the only things that go on for me.  Trust me, I have had a few "I don't think I can do this" days, and "what on earth have I gotten myself into" moments.

A few weeks ago I had one of my worst days since the iPad cover fiasco. I don't want to bore you with the details, but I'll say that involved a pretty big spelling mistake on the information card for custom letterpress invitations that were a rush order. The spelling mistake was never caught during the proofing stage and got approved for print with the mistake - the letterpress printers didn't catch it, and the assembly folks (ahem, my husband) didn't catch it either. In fact, the mistake was so easy to miss, that I think my bride may have sent a bunch of her invitations before realizing it.

As a designer, I felt like I failed. But after curling up in bed, and briefly allowing myself to feel like an absolute failure, I realized that moping wasn't going to solve anything. I gave myself about fifteen minutes to feel like crap, and then I got the heck out of bed and began reaching out to my designer friends for support and working my butt off to make the situation right. I emailed my bride immediately and apologized, apologized, apologized. I also found my best way to fix the situation and quickly gave her my recommendation. While we couldn't have the cards reprinted using letterpress, I was able to have them flat printed on the same cotton paper and mailed to my bride within 24 hours.

Was the situation ideal? Absolutely not. Did I handle it with grace and sincerity? I think I did. And to be honest, the fact that such a bad thing could happen and I was able to handle it in a way that my bride still trusted me and loved working with me is such a huge compliment that it absolutely reaffirmed how much I love doing stationery.

So to all of you small business owners, newbies, designers, or whatever - mistakes happen. Bad days happen, guilt happens, tears happen. It all happens and it's not fun, but it will not break you and does not mean you aren't good at what you do. These things happen so that we can learn from them and make our businesses better because of it. Emily Ley says it best in that we should hold ourselves to a standard of grace, not perfection. We cannot be perfect, but gosh darnit, if we can handle those imperfections with grace, we have accomplished a whole lot.

Do any of you have a mantra that has gotten you through a particularly bad day? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.

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  1. Dealing with mistakes with grace is half the battle. I have just recently discover your blog and I have been enjoying all that you been Sharing...
    Wish you much success. ~Barby

    1. Thank you for reading and following, Barby!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I have completely been in the same position as you and thought for about 10 minutes that I should just shut my etsy shop down and go back to the uneventful life that I had before opening it. HA! I had a customer order an 8 x 10" print but she said it wasn't truly 8 x 10 and wouldn't fit in her frame. I am still baffled by this one!! All you can do in these situations is have the best customer service you possibly can. It is still scary & definitely makes you feel like a failure of sorts. It's nice to know others have had similar things happen and have had the same feelings I have. But we push on and we're better for it! :)

    1. Hi Molly! It such an awful feeling when a mistake happens, but it's deifnitely something we all need to get used to. Unfortunately, mistakes happen :( You're totally right though, we push on and grow!


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