One of my favorite books of all time is John Irving’s The Water-Method Man. And in this very moment, I’m feeling a little bit like the protagonist, Fred “Bogus” Trumper.
If you’ve not read the book, I’ll not give away too much, but Bogus (nobody calls him Fred in the book) is largely defined by an endless series of mistakes, many of them made while dealing with the consequences of prior mistakes. Add in some bizarre circumstances, and you end up with a comedy of errors unlike many in modern history.
I’ve occasionally compared myself to Bogus in my mind. While my life is nowhere near as bizarre, nor do I make quite as many mistakes as he does, it’s hard not to look back at him when I screw up.
It took me six weeks to make my first mistake in my new job. It was relatively minor – a scheduled tweet that went out at the wrong time. The unfortunate part was that it went out across a number of accounts, including my own. While I have access to push content to these accounts, I don’t have access to take it back. As I’ve tried to remedy the situation, old Bogus came to mind.
The key, however, to not ending up in the nearly endless bad situations that Bogus finds himself in is encapsulated in a quote that I’ve seen attributed to Henry Rollins: “Half of life is fucking up. The other half is dealing with it.” From this:
- Own your mistakes – when you make the mistake, admit that you’re wrong, even if you’re pretty sure nobody will find out.
- Deal with your mistakes – do what it takes to fix your mistakes, even if it means reaching out to even more people for their help, and having to admit you were wrong.
- Figure out where you went sideways – go back to the root of the problem, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Do those things, and you won’t end up like Bogus Trumper. And as a side note, read The Water-Method Man. You’ll have a few laughs, and you’ll understand this post all the more.