Several years ago I was working on a big personal event with one of my corporate clients and I screwed up. Not in the “someone got hurt” kind of way, but one that was just as monumental to the client in an “event planning type of way”. It was huge to the client and as a result, it was huge to me. I felt so bad and even though I was quick to make it right, I could not shake the feeling that I had really let her down and couldn’t forgive myself for making such a careless mistake.
I lamented on it for weeks. There is no one that I knew at the time that did not hear about my “Bar Mitzvah Emergency”. But even with all of the “talking it out” and ruminating, it didn’t make it hurt less. I was stuck.
Until one day I was recounting the story to a mutual friend of the clients and she said, “You need to clean your filter.” To my response, “Huh?”
She went on to explain that when you are weighted down with something—that you just can’t shake it’s similar to when you dry a load of laundry. You could continue to dry load after load of laundry without cleaning out the filter, but over time it becomes more and more ineffective–it stops working. And God forbid you let it go so long, you start a fire in your dryer! So there is a simple solution to keep the effectiveness of the dryer at 100% and avoiding flare ups…you need to clean the filter. Often.
It’s a simple solution to what seems like a very hard and complex problem. But it worked.
The visual of peeling away the mistake and the aftermath is what I needed—I am a visual person! It wasn’t instantaneous, but I made a conscious effort to forgive myself and in the end made a joke of it. One that the client and I joke about all the time. It will never go away, but the hurt of it is gone—I can laugh about it now! And like Anne of Green Gables says, “I never make the same mistake twice.”
So as we recover from this very long election season and head into the holidays, we need to look at what is tearing us up, loading us down, and/or keeping us from our top performance, and clean it out!