Ah, perfection. We’d all like to achieve it, but — let’s get serious — none of us ever will.
Each day I enter the Reporter office, the goal is be mistake-free for eight hours and then drive home a happy man with my car floating on air up Bothell Way toward my mansion in the clouds in north Seattle.
Good luck with that one, sir.
In reality, we can only hope for the best with each task on tap. Sometimes we win, but — ouch — we often take a fall.
Yes, gaffes do end up in the paper at times — hopefully rarely — and it’s not a pleasant experience when a phone call or e-mail rolls in and points out our imperfections.
Sure, we can correct the matter with a note in the paper or on the Web site, but just knowing that the mistake is out there can ruin even the best of days.
I’ve made my share of blunders over my 18 years in the business, and I’ve learned to deal with them better over time. However, mistakes still sting. And they always will.
My editor friend in San Jose is not immune to the mistake world: “If it’s a misspelled name or an incorrect fact, I usually get a knot in my stomach and my confidence is shaken a bit. I keep thinking, ‘How did I miss that?’ If it’s a minor error, I don’t let it bother me.
“There are so many opportunities for mistakes to happen, I’m usually glad if it’s just a minor one. Those major mistakes do make me become more careful/aware.”
Another editor buddy in Virginia weighs in: “If one does happen — after all, Babe Ruth struck out once in a while — it’s important to do all you can to fix it. However, once all that’s done (retraction, etc.), endless self-abuse isn’t going to make it better — the only thing to make it better from a personal/professional perspective is to learn from that and not repeat the same mistake.”
What’s most important here is that we all fall short sometimes, in the work environment and in life. I feel that we can grow and become better people when we’re hit with a few chinks in our armor every once in a while. It’s a wake-up call and might even break us out of a rut and change the way we run our lives.
It’s certainly enough to make you jump up from your chair, shake your head, maybe curse yourself a little and get the adrenaline flowing.
It gives us the opportunity to make up for the mistake, clear that hurdle and move forward to what awaits around the next corner.
It makes us feel truly alive with a purpose in life — so maybe some mistakes aren’t so bad after all.