“Don’t hire him – he dropped out of school.”

Everyone at some stage will have a regret in their life. It could be something they said or didn’t say; or something they did or didn’t do. It might be something that happened in their childhood, their teens – or even just a few weeks ago.

Touching base with the past can help us move forward – no-one should have to live the rest their lives in regret. Awareness, acceptance, apologies and forgiveness can be keys to moving on in life – on both a personal and professional level.

In the business world, this too, needs to be remembered.

If one slips-up in the workplace we need to take a time out, reflect and communicate. Is the problem really so bad that the person is shouted at, or worse, fired?

I remember a few years ago when one of our team members got such a fright when our whole website crashed – with one little push of a button, three years of hard work was gone – in just a split second.  I remember walking into the office to a white face of terror. It was all made worse for her by the fact that I was being assessed that weekend for a national award and our website would be the go-to for the judges to learn about the business.

Upon further learning that the website could not be retrieved, and would have to rebuilt, I was obviously shocked, upset and worried, but I did not once shout, roar or have a hissy fit.

I simply said everything would be okay.

I felt it a good idea that we took a time out and get a cup of tea to calm ourselves.

When we recollected ourselves we started brainstorming our possibilities. We had extremely limited funds, the server wouldn’t allow us access our backup in case it was infected, and we were not techies! However, we weren’t going let that defeat us. We both took a deep breath and over the next 48 hours the two of us locked ourselves in the office and rebuilt the entire website on our own!

(PS – Thank you YouTube vloggers for all your tips and advice!)

The outcome? We actually felt our new website was even better than the original; we had learnt a whole load of new tricks along the way and we had even strengthened our working relationship! I didn’t even win the award in the end but hand on heart I can honestly say that that was not down to a website crashing – it was simply because I wasn’t ready. Simple as that.

So why did I react the way I did upon hearing the bad news of the website crashing, even though I had witnessed many employers from previous jobs explode over less?

This was simple. I had led a life full of challenges. We had personally faced death in our family. We had seen our extremely close friends lose their beautiful child at 11 months old, two weeks before her first birthday. Watched our own family members lose their tiny babies through cot death and still births. I had lost my little child through miscarriage. Our children, myself and my husband had complex health conditions.

Really, was a website crashing, really that bad in comparison?

In work, and in life, I use a very simple, but very serious, motto when things go wrong. I always ask, “Has anyone died?”

If the answer is no, then it’s not that bad. It can always be fixed. There is no point in screaming at people when they make mistakes. Much of the time that person learned the lesson as soon as the mistake was made. In the cases where the person maybe didn’t see they had done anything wrong, then a calm two-way conversation (not confrontation!) needs to happen. Of course, there are those people who don’t learn; don’t want to change; don’t want to try – but that’s a whole other conversation.

I just think of my own life before I judge others. I can admit I have made mistakes in my life. Can you?

Have you ever had a blazing row with a friend, family or loved one and said things you didn’t mean? Have you ever cheated on a girl/boy friend in your teenager years? Ever taken a “sick” day from work because you were hungover? Or lied to your parents about where you were going/what you did? Told your partner that clothes were cheaper than they actually were? Been arrested or in court for something which you regret now, or something insignificant when put in perspective with the greater scheme of life? Or got the “shudders” when thinking back on an embarrassing (even drunk!) moment? Have you nearly flunked college because you were too busy going out all the time? Or ditched school – and got caught!

Think about it. We are all prone to saying or doing things that we might later regret. I suppose what I am trying to say in this article is that we should all think twice before we jump to conclusions.Give people chances, ask questions. In interviews for jobs, for instance, make an opportunity to discuss challenges.

Reconsider the person who may have been fired from their first job for being late all the time. What age were they when that happened? Did they have money to pay for the fuel or bus to get them there on time?

Reconsider the person who dropped out of school. What if, in their final exam years in school, there was a family bereavement?

Reconsider the person that a colleague told you were “wild in their day”? Eh, weren’t we all?

Reconsider the person with no college degree. What if they weren’t academic by nature, but more hands on, with lived experiences?

We need to remember we were all young once, and that we’re all built differently. We need to remember even as adults we can get it wrong. Should we really block peoples futures because of past mistakes?

I don’t think so. I feel people should be given chances and opportunities to learn from past errors. Remember – it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn from it. Allow people the chance to say sorry, forgive them – help them be better people.

As I said at the beginning – awareness, acceptance, apologies and forgiveness can be keys to moving on. It’s a two way conversation – we can all play our part in helping people, not only accept that errors are in the past, but for us to accept too that they want to change for the better – and that we’re not all that perfect ourselves.

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4 thoughts on ““Don’t hire him – he dropped out of school.”

  1. Here is one of the responses this post received through LinkedIn which I felt was very powerful:

    Gina Naughton [RIS/PACS Systems Administrator at HSE]

    “I agree wholeheartedly that is is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it and don’t try to cover it up and cause further damage in doing so. The most interesting people and those with most to offer are those who have learned from what I would call errors of judgement at a specific time in their lives. Encouraging a culture of disclosure with a “no blame” but rather a “lessons learned’ and “prevention of recurrence” culture can reap many benefits in life. How boring life both personal and business would be if everyone followed a first draft plan in their “life” project. Inspiring article.”

  2. So true. Most of us are so busy in life, living in our own own world and chasing our own dreams that we are ready to explode on anything and then regret later. But the practice of mindfulness can help us to build happy life.

    Nice article . This reflects how vulnerable we all are and how much peace we can have by practicing values which we often discuss as the core of humanity.

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