October 6 - What Do You Do with a "Whoops!" Moment?

There are hundreds of thousands of situations that qualify as “whoops” moments! They could be anything from a forgotten and missed appointment to a mistake in a proposal or tripping as you approach the podium to deliver an important speech! A “whoops” moment is an unavoidable part of a human being’s life…but our experience of each “whoops” moment is entirely up to us.

For example, one night a woman shared on our eClubSoda call that she had been very upset with herself all day. It seems that after taking orders for coffee for a roomful of conference attendees, when she returned with the order she discovered that there was one cup of coffee missing. She was horrified that the order was not perfect…angry with the restaurant, frustrated with herself and embarrassed by her assessment of the situation. Her reaction, according to the rest of us on the call, seemed much greater than the situation actually merited! So we explored the connection between what she felt in the present circumstance and what she had felt as a little girl. Not surprisingly, they were very similar indeed.

I had coincidently gone to the same conference that same day. Each quarter I would meet the new participants during their initial weekend as I would be coaching them throughout their participation in the leadership program. I walked into the building, and it was very dark. Not a good sign! I knocked on the office door. No response. A really “not good” sign!

All of a sudden I remembered a conversation I had the previous week with the leader of the conference…she had mentioned just in passing that the building had had a plumbing leak and as a result she may have to hold the conference at a different place. This definitely was a major “whoops” moment for me. I didn’t know where they were; I had no way to reach them (that I could think of in that “whoops” moment); and I thought I would be “killed”! Those were the thoughts that were immediately triggered by my interpretation of the “whoops” moment. My administrator who was attending with me, on the other hand, felt blindsided…like no one had told him of the change, that he was responsible for my schedule and that now he would get “in trouble.” We were both having our own experience of the very same circumstance…and both were larger than the circumstance actually merited.

After a moment of complete panic that immediately turned to remorse and resignation, I fortunately regained my adult mind and remembered that I had the phone number of the office; typically when they were not there, one of the employees usually had his cell phone number listed on his answering service message. So I called, got his number, and called him.

“Where are you?” I asked somewhat frantically.

“We are in that upstairs room where we always meet,” he replied sounding somewhat bewildered.

Feeling somewhat bewildered myself, I said, “Really? I thought you couldn’t use that room?”

“No, we were able to,” he said. “Come on up!” And with that, my “whoops” moment came to end.

However, later I was interested in what came up for me…that feeling like I might get “killed”…and also what my administrator had felt in that moment about feeling blindsided. So after we left, we talked about our individual perspectives and got back to our 0-13 memories where we could make the connection with our current experience. We could then be a healing agent for each other, and as a result, enable ourselves to be less upset during our next “whoops” moment! It is all about learning to separate the circumstance from the reaction so that we can eventually find understanding and completion, both in the past and in the present moment.

What do you do when faced with a “whoops” moment? Do you panic and revert back to what might have happened to you as a child when you made a mistake? Or do you respond in the moment to the circumstances at hand and then later process the event with your adult mind? Are you using your “whoops” moments as a vehicle to selfawareness and understanding?

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