How to move on when you make a mistake

Move make mistake

Oh my goodness I stuffed up so bad the other week.

It’s a great story to tell in hindsight but it wasn’t so great at the time.

Over 100 people witnessed this mistake and I have never felt so embarrassed in my entire life. I could feel my face turning red, my heart starting to race and my eyes welling up with tears. As soon as I could retreat I did. I found a quiet place to lick my wounds and to contemplate the consequences of this epic failure.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to move past this mistake, it was so public. So I rang my husband Paul, the only person I knew who would understand and who would help me feel better. As I relayed the story to him, with my voice trembling, I heard this giggle on the other end of the phone that grew into uncontrollable laughter. I soon realized in astonishment that he thought it was hilarious. This was not the help I was expecting!

So let me tell you about this mistake

It was Saturday 11 November (Remembrance Day) and I was in full swing managing a conference. I thought it would be fitting to hold a minute’s silence at 11am to honour our fallen Australian soldiers. I factored this into my running sheet, but it wasn’t until 4.30am on the morning of the conference that this great idea popped into my head. I didn’t want to just announce the minute silence, I wanted some visuals on the big screen to create a moving atmosphere. So I lay in bed searching for an appropriate video on YouTube and I came across one that looked really good. I saved the URL and at 10.30am whilst the delegates were having morning tea I retrieved the YouTube clip and got it up and ready to play on the big screen. With just minutes to spare we got everyone back into the room, ready and waiting for the one minute silence.

There on the big screen appeared the bugle player dressed regally in his red uniform playing the Last Post. I felt a sense of pride as I looked around at everyone and the atmosphere I had created. Little did I know this feeling wasn’t going to last for too long. As the bugle finished playing and quiet descended on the room, there on the screen appeared a big red and white flag billowing proudly in the wind with a maple leaf front and centre.

I heard a murmur ripple through the entire room

The man standing next to me turned and said “what the hell is the Canadian flag doing on the screen?” My heart sank into the pit of my stomach “Oh my goodness what have I done?” I didn’t see a flag billowing in the background on my small iPhone screen and I had no idea what the Canadian flag looked like. That’s when I started looking for a table to crawl under. How could I have made such a huge mistake? Why did it not twig to me that our soldiers don’t wear red uniforms with tall black fluffy hats on their heads.

The longest minute EVER

I stood for a full minute with 100 people staring at that maple leaf, pondering how I was ever going to live this one down. Should I apologise to everyone at the end, should I say it was my mistake and certainly not my intention to pay respect to Canadian soldiers or should I just hope and pray that everyone would forget about it as the day rolled on.

I felt sick and was absolutely mortified at my mistake. I pride myself on my professionalism, my organization skills and my ability to run a great event. I felt like I had failed on all three fronts.

It took me all day to stop feeling sick, but eventually I managed to calm down. With the help of my work colleagues and yes my husband too, I was able to move on and let this mistake go.

I learnt three great lessons from this mistake.

Firstly; always trust your intuition

As I lay in bed watching the YouTube clip on my phone a little voice popped into my head and said “Claire you had better check out that smart red uniform with the big black fluffy hat. This is the World Wide Web you are searching on and this video may not be Australian.” But I chose to ignore that little voice, even though it kept niggling at me. I put it to one side and said to myself I will check on it later. However, I got so busy that I didn’t have time to revisit it. Big mistake!

Secondly; mistakes are always going to happen

The key to getting over mistakes is your mind set. My instant reaction was doom and gloom. Paul reminded me however, that the world was not going to end and no one was harmed whilst watching a Canadian flag billow in the wind. It was an innocent mistake sponsored by good intention but executed poorly. In future if I decide to do something out of the ordinary at one of my events I will make sure it is organized well in advance!

Thirdly; I know what the Canadian flag looks like now!

I will always recognise the Canadian flag and the official ceremonial uniform of the Canadian Force Soldiers (bear skin hats and red surge uniforms). Nothing at all like the ceremonial uniform of our Australian Force Soldiers. In fact it’s a stark contrast. Oh well you live and learn!

I have now created another memory for Remembrance Day. One that will never take away from our Australian soldiers but one that will remind me of how important it is to let go and forgive yourself for the mistakes you make in life.

Be happy, colour the world.


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