Pearl Buck was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. I loved The Good Earth. The other day, I came across a quote by her that grabbed me – so much so that I went looking for some paper to copy it…
“Every great mistake has a half way moment, a splt second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.”
As a career success coach, I read that and said, “Wow!”
I tell my career success coaching clients that stuff is going to happen as you go through life – some of it unpleasant. I also advise them that it’s not the stuff that happens that’s important. How you react to the stuff that happens is what’s important. I think this is particularly true when it comes to brand building. It takes a long time to build a great brand and only a minute to destroy it.
Serena Williams is a good example. I am a big Serena fan. I love her grit and determination. She never quits. However, her brand took a big hit last summer at the US Open. If you’re not a tennis fan, here is a recap of what happened. Serena was down one set to love and four games to five in her semi final match to Kim Clijsters. She was serving at 15 – 30. The lines judge called a foot fault against her, taking the score to 15 – 40, one point away from losing the match. A foot fault is a rare call, and one that is hardly ever made in crucial situations. In this case, it also was an incorrect call, the replay showed that Serena had not foot faulted.
Serena was clearly upset about the call. However she seemed to gather herself and get ready to serve again. I was thinking, “Good for you, Serena. You’re not going to let a bad call take you out of your game.”
Then disaster struck. Serena backed away from the service line and approached the lines judge, holding the ball in front of her and screaming that she was “Going to take this f***ing ball and f***ing shove it down your f***ing throat.”
The umpire called the lines judge over, and asked is Serena had threatened her. She said, “Yes.” As a result, Serena was docked a point. However, it was a huge point. The foot fault made it 15 – 40, the point she was docked gave the game, set and match to Clijsters.
I tell the story here because of Pearl Buck’s quote. Serena made a great mistake. And there was a half way moment when she could have avoided it. In fact, she seemed to have made it successfully through that moment. Then she lost it and confronted the lines judge. It seemed to me almost as if she said to herself, “To hell with it, I can’t let her get away with such a terrible call.”
Instead of recalling the mistake, she went right on ahead and made it – seemingly knowing what she was doing. That was too bad. She lost the match and the opportunity to defend her title. And, she did some real harm to her brand.
As you go through life, you’ll encounter some foot fault moments. I know I do. As a career success coach, I urge you to take full advantage of that split second moment when you can stop yourself from making a mistake that will damage your brand, or your relationship with an important person. Slow things down. Don’t let your anger get the better of you. Choose to do the smart thing. Because after all, what happens isn’t what’s important. How you react to what happens is.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people build and nurture their unique personal brands, and they build and nurture relationships with important people in their lives. Pearl Buck suggests that “Every great mistake has a half way moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.” When bad things and things that make you angry happen, remember these words. Don’t do damage to your brand or your relationships. Slow down, take a deep breath, think about what you’re doing. Take it from a career success coach, this might help you avoid letting your anger get the better of you. It might help you take advantage of that split second when you can recall and remedy a mistake you are about to make.
That’s my take on how to take advantage of the split second when you can remedy a mistake you are about to make. What’s yours? Please take a few minutes to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.