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  • Writer's pictureHelen Frewin

I messed up. It’s good for me!

Part of my day job is facilitation – as in chairing a meeting or event to help a team get to a desired outcome.


There is so much value that can be added by an external person holding a group to an agenda, to specific outcomes, and guiding the conversation in a helpful direction – sharing observations as we go.


But, at a recent event, I messed up.


I made an absolute no-no for a facilitator.


It’s sticking to the desired outcomes of the meeting like a dog with a bone that makes a facilitator so useful, among other things, and that’s where I failed. I got too involved in the debate itself, had empathy with people taking the conversation in a different direction and we ended up not achieving as much from the day.


I’m human, we all make mistakes. But what do we do with those mistakes? How do we recover, talk about the experience, resolve the situation and learn from it?


It was powerful to explore with the CEO what had gone wrong, and pass on suggestions of what next. The team can now make a decision at their next meeting – and as it turns out, that may be helpful for them to have a few weeks to reflect before making that decision. Whilst it would be lovely to just write it all off then as everything worked out ok in the end, there is more to take from this.


How did I get lost in the debate and what can I learn from that for next time?


This was perhaps the most painful realisation for me – that I had not been explicit at the start of the day, about those desired outcomes. I did that awful thing of making an assumption that we were all on the same page. Not only did that mean the objectives had not been communicated and confirmed, I had also not checked that everyone was agreed on that direction. At break times and lunch, the opportunity to reiterate those goals, check how we’re doing against them and agree the next steps.. all of that was missed by me not setting the day up in the best way.


As I reflect on all of this, it seems like such a rookie error that I wonder how on earth I got there. But that’s the thing about mistakes… it is only afterwards that we can see them with the clarity that makes them so embarrassing. I have learnt from the experience, and that’s where the magic is.


I’m delighted the outcome for the charity was positive, and as you can probably imagine, there is going to be follow-up work from me to ensure that my mistake has not cost them.


And now you get to learn from my mistake too! That’s the power of sharing our experiences!


For full disclosure, I asked ChatGPT to help me write this post, and my goodness what it came back with was useless fluff! An inauthentic load of superlatives about learning from experience. So I just went old-school and wrote about my experience and reflections.


However, this one final line that ChatGPT provided struck me as super powerful:

As we navigate the complexities of business and human interaction, let us remember that our greatest lessons often stem from our most humbling experiences, illuminating new pathways towards success and fulfilment.


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