The Day I Messed Up: Thoughts on When the Mistake is Yours


It was meant to be a happy day–the first day a published piece on a client’s blog would go out to hundreds of subscribers.

This client offered space for contributing writers to share on topics that aligned with the client’s business.  My job was to take the pieces submitted and edit/format them to fit the blog, and run them on a regular schedule.

I worked to set up a system, arrange for Mail Chimp to be able to pick up the RSS feed, and started editing and scheduling posts to appear routinely every other Tuesday.

The first “send” came and I was delighted to see that the technology worked. I even emailed the client and the contributing writer to celebrate.

That’s when it happened.

In all my setting up of a process, I neglected to carefully proofread the piece. The first paragraph somehow showed up twice. Another small error appeared. And the joy of publication was marred by the obvious mistakes, and we had to put in place a plan to overcome the distractions–which we did, successfullly.

In the end, all worked out just fine.

But it was worth thinking about what happened in order to grow. As I reflected, the following came to mind:

  • My focus on developing a good system blinded me to catching an obvious error.
  • My focus on process kept me from asking for help from another proofreader.
  • My “years of experience” in this type of project led to focus on efficiency over collaboration.
  • My speed overcame accuracy.
  • My responsibilities were nearing the state of overwhelm (this all happened in a season of increased opportunity and decision making.)

Are systems, processes, experience and speed wrong? No. Without them, we’d be far less productive. But it’s easy to sacrifice collaboration, attentiveness, and consideration on the altar of efficiency.  

Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to understand my limits–to think through what I can do well over the long term, and to extend grace to myself and others.

How about you? Are you getting overwhelmed and finding yourself making more mistakes? What are you going to do about it?

If having some assistance would help you feel less overwhelmed, check out HOPE's collaborative virtual assistance services.

Beth Beutler is the Founder/CEO of H.O.P.E. Unlimited, a small business offering collaborative virtual assistance and professional development education/mentoring to Help Overwhelmed Professionals Excel. She has over 30 years of experience in administrative assistance and office management, soft skills training, and writing.