Being wrong chafes the ego yet often leads to a greater right. Nowhere has this been more true in my own life than my failed ten-year marriage that ended in 2007. That decade of futility saw two amazingly stubborn people persist in a relationship that neither wanted to admit was fated from the start. Only when gut-wrenching honesty prevailed was I able to admit that not wanting to be divorced was a terrible reason to remain in an unhealthy and incompatible marriage. I had forgotten one of the greatest lessons of my childhood, that’s its okay to call a do-over when something does not work as I had hoped.
In a little over a month’s time I get to initiate one of the most significant do-overs in my life, thus far, as I marry Holly in New York City’s Central Park. Being fully conscious of the opportunity this do-over represents, I’ve chosen a highly compatible partner who meets the list of needs I have for a quality relationship (for those of you who know me the fact that I had a list for selecting my mate should come as no surprise). This opportunity makes me grateful for my previous mistakes since, without those, I wouldn’t have the insights that have helped me make better choices the second time around.
How can a do-over mindset serve your life and your company? Here are three steps for accessing those do-overs we did as kids:
1. Whether it’s an overly difficult customer generating little to no profit or a relationship filled with drama and strife, accepting the fact that something is not working for you is the first step. Acceptance does not mean you have to like the situation or even your original choice. It merely requires an acknowledgement that the status quo no longer works for you.
Marcus, the CEO for one of my West coast clients, knew he had erred with one of his additions to his leadership team. Rather than wanting to admit he regretted the hire, he kept finding ways to try and fix what was unfixable, especially since this was the third person within two years who failed in the role. The breakthrough moment came when I was able to get Marcus to acknowledge that the hire was a mistake and to accept that nothing was going to change that. As he put it to me, that was the “freeing moment” as he could now move on to step two.
2. Ask yourself what are the possible ways to initiate a do-over. Engage colleagues at the office for work-related do-overs or friends at home for those on the personal side of life.
I am often the sounding board for possibilities, so Marcus bounced different ideas off of me during one of our meetings. Within 20 minutes, he had two workable plans for making a better hire and removing the ineffective executive from his team.
3. When you find a possibility that you believe will work do it, right away. Life is about progress, not perfection. Even if your do-over is less than perfect, better to be headed in a new direction than stuck in the same old rut that you know doesn’t work. Most of the time you’ll find that your do-over creates either a better result or requires just a bit of fine-tuning over time to achieve a significantly improved outcome when compared to the previous set of circumstances.
Marcus hired and onboarded a new leader in under five weeks, calling this the easiest hire he’d ever made. “Amazing what happens when you get over yourself, accept mistakes, and call a do-over,” said Marcus.
Kids are masterful at learning from mistakes as they take risks, make mistakes, yell “do-over,” and then try again. So join me and let the kid in you come out more often as life happens. While I may not convince Holly that I should yell “do-over” as part of my vows, I promise I’ll at least be screaming it in my head.