Lessons from Homer – Good is OK!

September 2, 2010

In a previous incarnation I worked in a sales office. We were a venue that hosted staff parties, etc. (commonly know as a bowling alley). My finest moment came with a booking for over 200 people – That’s 200 people! Show me the money! I was flavour of the month – for days people high-fived me as I walked into work and strangers hugged me and said things like “way to go, Tiger!”

I deserved no less.

We drafted in extra staff for the big event – stocked the bar so that the fridges were bulging – turned away groups of potential customers, kids and their distraught families sent crying from our door. We didn’t need them – we had my 200 people coming in! Ten minutes before their arrival, Mike – my general manager – put on his best tie and brushed his hair. We headed for the main entrance trying to hide the pound signs in our eyes and we waited.

And we waited.

And waited.

It soon became apparent that I had written the booking down on the wrong day. The 200 weren’t coming.  Mike – my long-suffering boss – looked around at the venue that was devoid of customers but full of staff. Lots of staff. All on overtime. As his shoulders dropped I took the opportunity to leg it through the front doors.

I bought myself a can of beer on the way home. I sat on my bed- a lonely figure (where were the high-fives? where were the hugs?) – and there was only one thing I could do.

I slapped my hand to my forehead and shouted “Doh!”

What else could I do?

Proof – as if any were needed – that Homer Simpson is indeed the world’s greatest teacher.

On Monday morning my boss was waiting for me at the door. His hair was a little messy. There was no sign of his best tie. He sat me down in his office and watched me whimper for a while.

“Not your greatest moment ever, eh, Mike?” he said to me.

And then he added – “Don’t worry. Nobody’s perfect.”

And that was it.

What a great lesson he (and Homer) taught me – Everyone makes mistakes. EVERYONE.

As managers – I believe – not only do we NOT need to be perfect but that it’s unrealistic to always aim to be so. We just don’t have the time. If we haven’t made a few mistakes by lunchtime it probably means we’re not working hard enough.

So if you do make a mistake you should welcome it. I love this quotation from boxing legend Muhammad Ali –

“It’s just a job. Grass grows. Birds fly. Waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”

If we don’t reach perfection, so what? If you make a mistake, slap your head and shout ‘Doh!’ and get on with your life. It’s just a job. Be kind to yourself…

…And let others make mistakes too – What a great lesson Mike taught me – Thanks, Mr Crane!

Do you agree? Please leave a comment.

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