Leading Through a Mistake

A few weeks ago at our Fall Retreat I made a mistake. I know I know its shocking. We putting on our late night environment and...

A few weeks ago at our Fall Retreat I made a mistake. I know I know its shocking. We putting on our late night environment and part of that was to do some goofy videos. We had found one that we liked but it had one part in that was questionable. It wasn’t a terrible thing! But it pushed the line enough that it made us uncomfortable to try to send it through. Especially with middle school kids there.

So I edited the video. It was no problem. It took about 30 minutes from start to finish. Most of which was importing it and bouncing it down. I had both videos on my desktop. The unedited on and the edited on. Now as a sidebar for future reference I just was to give a gentle reminder on the importance of remembering to rename your edited videos as to not create any confusion at the time of transfer!

You can see where this is going. When it came time to transfer the video over to the computer we were using for Pro Presenter I transferred the wrong video. The unedited video! Nice!!

The best part is we didn’t realize it until the video was on the screen! Playing. For everyone to see. I made a mistake and kind of a big one. To top it all off, I HAD TIME!! We had a bus break down on the way to us. So I had time to double check my work and be sure that I hadn’t screwed up. But I didn’t go that extra step to make sure that everything was right.

I was soo angry with myself. But I saw some things in how the leader I was working with handled the situation that I may never forget. It made us all look bad. Especially to our leaders that were with us on the trip.

The reality is that guy could have thrown me under the bus. I would have been ok with it. I was ready to take my licks. It was my fault. I was ready to apologize and deal with the situation. It was my fault and I knew that. But he did something completely different. He stood in the gap for me. I will never forget hearing phrases like “ya know it was just a mistake. WE edited a video and then WE transferred the wrong one!”

He never even said it was my fault. He never used me as a scape goat! And he could have. He stood in the gap for me. And showed me that mistakes happen and when they do he would have my back. I cannot really express how much that meant to me as a leader!

Later that night when we were cleaning up after all the students before lights out I apologized again and told him how angry I was with myself. He looked at me and said “it happens man. No worries, don’t worry about it” He reassured me that he loved me and that all was good. Then we talked a little about how to deal with it the next day!

The situation could have ended a completely different way but that leader chose to deal with it differently. It taught me a lot!

Here are 3 things I learned through that situation about leading

Grace Matters – There is something about receiving that break that you didn’t earn that really makes you feel believed in and loved. Long before this happened I would have done anything short of sin that this leader asked of me. But this just reiterated why I love him so much and why he is a mentor for me. He took my back. He reminded me that we all need grace in leadership and in life. And he chose to be a vessel of grace in my life!

WE – We succeed as a team and we fail as a team. I made us all look bad. I know it was frustrating. Especially since I had time to correct the mistake. But rather than throw me under the bus he decided that we would go through this together. Everyone knows how to make mistakes. Not everyone knows how to lead through them. This was true evidence that we are a TEAM! At all times not just when it is fun!

Teach – I was taught through this. Not berated and yelled at. But taught. Even though I knew what I did wrong and how to avoid it next time I was still taught by what was done through the process. Everything you do as leader teaches the people around you! But its in those moments when you really do what is right when you don’t have to that will teach the most. This taught me a ton. But not because I was pulled aside and talked to. It was because of the way a leader lives his life. That is the greatest tool any of us have at our disposal. 

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