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08 December 2011 @ 10:56 am
I know it has to happen, that I'll fuck things up from time to time, but I don't have to like it. And it really feels like I've done that a LOT this week, which leaves me feeling ... well, like a fuckup!

I'd really like to hide under the blankets, but, of course, the only way to recover from messing up is to fix it, learn, and move on.


Tell me about a time you came out of a fuckup situation feeling great about how you handled it or what you learned from it?
I'm feeling: disappointeddisappointed
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on December 8th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC)
In 2009 I really screwed up my handling of the portrayal of the villain in one of my shows by a black woman. I was called on the appearance of racism and the negative messages I was reinforcing. I posted a public acceptance of my fault and discussion of the issues involved, which led to a great conversation with our community. I received several kudos for my handling of the situation and it began an ongoing conversation within T@F about diversity and inclusion. I am not satisfied with our progress in this area, but I have continued the process and think I can be pleased with that without neglecting the needs still unaddressed. And I learned a great deal through the whole episode that continues to inform my thinking, my leadership of T@F and our relationship with the community in positive ways.

I hope that your week turns around and that you can look back on your recent screw-ups with compassion and a positive feeling for how you've moved to acknowledge and correct them.
unintentional baitredheadedmuse on December 8th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
I have a lot of these stories, because I make a lot of mistakes!

Here's a small one that is more intention than story: I have a pile of paperwork on my desk that I have been ignoring for a month. I intend to sort through it before getting to the fun part of my day later. And then I will feel like a rock star. The end.

And one that really happened already: yesterday I was being extremely lazy all day and then I got up, cleaned the kitchen and made a lot of fantastic cookie dough and felt competent and strong.

More to come, promise.
Pierceheartpierceheart on December 8th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
I fucked up my first foray into poly relationships, such that i was dumped by one girlfriend, and almost dumped by the other.

Years later, after dating two people again, and things not working out with one of them, that one came to me a few months after breaking up with me and told me that I had shown them a good side of poly, that it can work, and why it is good when it works.
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on December 8th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
Ooooooooh I hate that. I'm sorry.

For me, it's a lot easier to come out of a social fuckup than a... an organizational one, if that makes sense. I don't mean personal vs work, I mean interacting-with-people vs getting-shit-done. For whatever reason, if I feel like I've fucked up a project I'm responsible for, it takes me a lot longer to crawl out from beneath the Great Heavy Rock of Infinite Self-Loathing than it does when my best course of action is just to apologize and hug and make it up.

That said - fixing those GHRoISL problems feels pretty wonderful.

This summer, I had a client who needed me to help them roll out an additional site. I knew it was a big project, but it was SO big that I was having a hard time staring it in the face. The client is pretty soft-spoken and friendly, so it was easy for me to just look the other way and put out other fires for a while, since nobody was breathing down my neck about it. I probably wasted a few weeks this way, doing a bit of paperwork here and there, but not actually, you know, *helping*.

Eventually it became clear that the project was not going to do itself; I had one or two conversations about it that made me feel pretty ashamed of myself. Really, I only do favors for the noisy mean people? That just isn't right. I had the option at that point of handing the entire customer off to someone else and washing my hands of it, but I didn't take it. Instead, I threw myself at it. I started by standing up and owning it, laying out the timeline for everyone, starting the project, and delegating the things that could be gracefully delegated while still managing the overall plan. I had to trade in a favor here and there to get some server stuff fast-tracked, but luckily, my team is awesome and we got everything done in time and under budget.

The thing I learned still feels counter-intuitive: I never apologized. I didn't send some self-indulgent mea culpa and make people choose between vilifying me or patting me on the head. I figured out that the block was me feeling bad about myself, and the best path forward for me was to stand up, own shit, and kick ass. Projecting confidence isn't just a party trick, it's a tool. Real live actual magical shit that makes everything better.

(Of course, apologies are an important part of taking responsibility. I'm well-versed in that. The thing I need to learn is how to NOT apologize, and this project was an excellent lesson in that for me.)
veek on December 8th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
For me, it's a lot easier to come out of a social fuckup than a... an organizational one, if that makes sense.

That's a great distinction to make. Most of the work-related stuff that I process as fuckups falls into the former of these categories: even if I fall down on a project (which, ohboy, has happened), it feels like I failed by promising something *to people* and then not doing it.

Of course, organizations are made of people and relationships, so that makes it harder to draw lines. But, like, if I propose a project and involve resources and then that project fails miserably even though everyone including me did their work? Even if there's something I personally could've done differently that would've made it succeed, that *feels* like a different category of fuckup. Is that the distinction you mean?
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on December 8th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, basically. Or if it's my job to make the right judgement calls and I make the wrong ones due to something entirely lazy and/or avoidable on my part.
sabriel_sabriel_ on December 10th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
thank you for sharing this!
Chance: forwardmiss_chance on December 8th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
I couldn't decide at first which of many fuck-ups I would mention here, but this one is the most recent major one and has many hooks into different issues, personal, professional, etc., and I'm feeling okay about the process of coming out of it. I'm really sorry you're having to deal with it. I sympathize.

So when I went off to Ucross in September, I was coming out of a period of a lot of personal stress and stresses going on all around me. Prol'ly don't really need to enumerate them all here. So on the one hand I was getting away from things I needed space from. But secondly, I had been applying to artist residencies for a year and half before getting accepted into this one and spent the four months before going preparing for it, to get the most out of it that I could personally and artistically. So on the other hand I was going toward something I greatly needed.

So I have six weeks of doing what I need to do for myself. Self-driven, self-motivated, and quite intentionally and by design, self-oriented. Nothing wrong with that and I cannot say enough about how great an experience it was.

But guess what? The rest of my life is not structured such that I make all of my decisions in a vacuum consisting only of my own needs. I have a life very intentionally interwoven and interdependent with other people with whom I'm choosing to share my life.

But I forgot.

I mean, obviously, not entirely, but in the first week I got back, I was just in the habit of doing things for me without really thinking of how they would effect other people. I made plans, I did stuff, and when I was called on it, I got defensive and angry, like "don't I have the right to take care of myself?!" Which, on some level I do have the "right" to do, and even the obligation and responsibility to do, but that's not exactly the life I live, nor even the one I would choose-- at least not in the way I acted.

It took a couple weeks of talking and working my way back out of some of the places I managed to get myself. I made some regrettable choices, I said some regrettable things. Some of which I have been able to patch up and some of which will probably just be permanent casualties of this whole experience and I'll have to live with that.

I'll do another residency, and this time not wait 18 years (from when the previous time I had 6 weeks to myself) to do it, and this time be sure to pay more attention to "re-entry." Lessons learned. Price paid.

On re-reading, I know this doesn't sound like the "feeling great" you asked for, but I'm feeling quite optimistic about what I've learned and how I can balance taking care of myself and others better in the future. I guess I do feel kind of great and I didn't realize it until I wrote this up.

Edited at 2011-12-08 07:01 pm (UTC)
veek on December 8th, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
One of my co-PIs on the NEH grant that we just finished up has refused to communicate with me in any way since the summer. There was a specific event that precipitated it: he came for a WordPress tutorial, and ended up storming out because what I was telling him didn't match up with his expectations. I tried to contact him a couple of times after that so that we could work things out, and he just wouldn't reply, he'd only talk (rant) to my boss, who is himself at a loss (at least insofar as he reports it).

The co-PI in question also moved away to another job in Montreal, so that complicates things.

I don't know exactly what I could've done better, or differently. I couldn't have prevented the mismatched expectations, because it turns out that what he wanted me to do was not to give him a tutorial at all, but to do a huge amount of work for him. Wasn't going to happen. But I still feel like I fucked up, like I could've caught his rage while it was growing, instead of only seeing it when he stormed out. Or... I don't know. Interpersonal communication is tricky, and I've never had this happen with anyone else, so I treat it as an isolated thing between the two of us. But, but, but. I wish I could've done something to make the end result something other than "G. won't talk to me, and this thing remains forever unresolved."

A few things I do know, and those are the most important to me (since they're the ones directly under my control). I acted with integrity throughout our meeting, which was supposed to be routine and completely uncontentious in the first place, and also in follow-up communications with him. I checked in with my boss several times about whether there was anything I could do to fix things (the answer has been no, he doesn't think so, and it's not clear to him what happened anyway, and it might've been the stress of moving jobs and countries, and I should not worry about it). I basically did everything in my power to fix it, without going overboard. Also, I learned to be extra extra SUPER sensitive about being in a teacher/trainer position when my student is a faculty member. Some of them don't like admitting that there's something they're just. not. getting.

I think my learning is showing up in my performance reviews. In previous years, I've gotten a "Meets expectations" on interpersonal relationships. This year, for the first time, I got graded "Exceeds expectations." Still working on it, always.
harimad on December 9th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Sometimes, even though there's a problem, and one is involved in it, and maybe if one were an interpersonal genius one could have managed it differently ... the situation is actually not your problem. Then, I guess, one's issue becomes how to minimize fallout rather than how not to have the problem in the first place.
harimad on December 9th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
I don't have a fuckup situation that I care to share, but I do care to share one way I get a benefit from it.

I use it to role-play.

- What went wrong? Think, talk with others, identify.
- How could I have seen it coming?
- What do I wish I had done differently or had thought to say? Practice saying it, even if just in my head, so I think of it next time and am comfortable saying it.
- Is the thing difficult to say? Then practice even more.
- Was part of the problem my lack of understanding, of person or situation or subject matter? Try to close that gap (or decide the effort outweighs the benefit).

drwex: VNVdrwex on December 9th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
This is hard
Because I feel like I fuck up a lot and there aren't a lot of times when I can feel like I do better. Rarely do people pat me on the back and say 'congratulations, you managed to act like an adult for once.'

So let me try this one:
Recently I posted something to a social forum in which I repeated a slur that I had heard someone else use. I got called on it by a commenter and as usual my initial feelings were to be defensive and to try to explain what I meant.

However, I'm starting to internalize that's the wrong thing to do so instead of all that I just apologized, agreed that the commenter was right, and removed the idiotic remark.

Nobody said "hey, good job" but I felt better for it.