Re-Mastering Disaster (When You’re Sure You’ve Screwed Up)!

Are there a few eye-rolling disasters looming in your past?

Ones which, when asked how bad they could possibly have been, you reply: “Hurricane Knucklehead, Category 5!”

I’ve got enough to field a baseball team, with a few leftover to pinch-hit if needed.

If you’ve ever set big goals to stretch yourself, ask someone for a date or grow a business, you’ve probably got some too.

Several years ago, thanks to Facebook, a smiling woman named Wendy entered my life. She hosted an Internet radio show and offered to have me as a guest over the phone, as I am in New Hampshire and she resides in the upper Northwest.

During our opening conversation, I noticed a slight time-delay which caused me to talk over her words a couple of times, stepping on her message.

Radio hosts normally hate that.

At one point, after wrapping up a story in response to her question, I was greeted with dead air. She wasn’t talking. So I extended my conversation with a related story.

When I finished that one, she was there with another question, which I happily answered.

When I wrapped it up with a laugh, saying “Yup, that’s the way it happened”, I was once again suffering in silence.

I jabbered on again. By the end of the hour, I felt as though I’d hijacked the entire show. 

Sure, I’d had a blast enjoying the freedom of rambling on with my motivational messages…but I was positive she was NOT going to be happy (once we got off-air) with my monopoly of her time.

After my appearances, I always like to reach back out to say thank you to the host.

As a pre-emptive strike, I blurted out an apology for stealing the lion’s share of the show.

Her laughter greeted me immediately.

“You don’t know what happened, do you?”

“No”, I replied…sheepishly.

“I lost my internet connection a bunch of times…thank God you kept talking!!”

Disaster, a virtual Hindenburg in my mind, averted.

We laughed together for several minutes, with heartfelt appreciation on each side, as the steam of embarrassment slowly left my ego.

Less than a week later, my phone rang.

It was Wendy.

“You wouldn’t believe how much feedback I’ve gotten from people about last week’s show, saying how cool it was that I actually gave you enough time to talk about your stuff without interrupting you. People loved the energy we shared. I’d like to figure out a way to have you as a permanent part of the show. Would you be interested?”

That’s the moment I discovered how hard it can be to speak when your jaw is on the floor.

Only days earlier, that 60 minutes of radio (in my mind) was an epic failure because I assumed I’d been stomping my size-12 gunboats all over the hallowed ground of Wendy’s flower garden!

How often have you committed something to memory as a colossal failure…without gathering the facts from the others involved?

Have you condemned yourself to purgatory, or even the hot tubs of hell, because you are your own worst enemy and assume that you’ve tap-danced to an explosive finale in a mine-field?

While Wendy and I did not ultimately connect to make her generous offer come to fruition, it still makes me smile.

My assumption, in hindsight, spelled disaster.

The truth was very different, as it means (according to dictionary.com) a ‘verified or indisputable fact’.

Who defined it for me? Wendy did.

My interpretation had been all wrong.

Sometimes we just have to ask for clarification.

Are you thinking of something in your life right now, which you’ve considered a disaster?

Or are you thinking of a situation in which someone else told you that you’d created one?

If you were to ask ALL parties involved, what do you think the truth might be?

Did you strap on the tap shoes and hear full-bore into the mine-field of shame before getting the facts?

Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as you thought, and recognizing this can help steer you to a better place in all future endeavors.

Step one: find your Wendy…and ask.

Wishing you the best for this week as you skirt disaster and head for sunnier, more beautiful skies…free of Hindenburgs!

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