Consultants, when they take that big step into the unknown world of freelancing, make mistakes. Many. Learning to fail has become a fact of my new life. I am constantly throwing things against the wall and seeing what will stick. That’s the fun part. The not-so-fun-part is when it slides slowly down the wall, leaving only a stain. Sigh.
Social media is turning out to be a grand experiment and when I succeed, I really succeed and when I fail, you can hear a pin drop. It’s amazing that we can measure the noise of our social tools with all the analytics that are easily available. But, those same cool tools are also a consultant’s dream AND nightmare. One day I wasted nine hours constantly checking my JetPack WordPress stats. Two people read my blog; no, four; no ten! And the day went on as I incessantly checked my counts hoping to break a record from the week before. I was just like my middle child who, on car trips asked, “are we there yet” from the minute we left the driveway. I couldn’t stop myself from obsessing.
Hootsuite is addictive too. One day I loaded it up with 20 different messages before I realized I was becoming psychotically compulsive. My big fail in both instances is that I didn’t realize how OCD I could become about such trivial things. I have missed hours of productivity because of my addiction to analytics.
Another fail – underestimating my time. I spent 20 hours on a project that I estimated would take five hours. I know, I know. That was not because I spent hours in between addicting to Hootsuite and JetPack. Learning the reality of your work time takes practice and experience. As I mentioned in my blog post, Nailing the Scope: How to Not Leave Money on the Table, I underestimate the amount of time on projects because I use my knowledge of time from when I had a team helping me. Flying solo, things can take a lot longer.
Fail #3: The proofreading, double-checking cluster of errors. Links don’t work; typos; autocorrect embarrassments; e-mail to the wrong person; etc. If you are working from home, all this makes sense. You are your own author, proofreader, quality control expert and sometimes you aren’t very good at any of these. One week I wrote three different blog posts and two of them were unusably bad. The third one was written right on deadline under pressure and thankfully worked. I have posted with bitly errors several times. I cannot figure out how to build a new page off my homepage so some of my articles are impossible to find on my Web site. And the list goes on. I am trying very hard to perfect the art of perfection. So far, not doing so well on this one.
I bet my fellow consultants could make this list of failures quite long, interesting and humorous. It’s just a fact of being on your own. Mistakes happen and when they do, you are the sole owner. No team to hide behind. Just you and your imperfections. The best new year’s resolution I am making – I plan to move quickly forward from failure, after first taking a moment to reflect on the lesson learned. I plan to let my mistakes make me very wise in 2016. I lift my champagne class to all of us and amplify a toast to failure!
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