A Microscopic Miss

Over lunch with a good friend, I learned that his team had missed an aggressive financial goal by .2%. That’s two tenths of one percent, to emphasize the point. This was especially disappointing because one key stakeholder neglected to complete his piece on time.

What do you do when this happens? Do you beat yourself up because your team is an eyelash away from the goal? Do you blame the stakeholder who wasn’t accountable? Do you make up another narrative to make excuses?

In some respects, it would be easier to miss the goal by a substantial amount, because it is easier to excuse away a big miss if there were volatile market conditions or a natural disaster.

The reality is that this friend “owns” the .2% shortfall and feels responsible for not achieving it. This is a leader you want on your team, because he’s not brushing it off as a rounding error or succumbing to the blame game.

We brainstormed what might be done differently next time, but we also focused on what worked well and contributed to an overall successful outcome. I’m not sure if he felt better after our conversation, but talking it through tends to clarify issues.

This got me thinking of others (including me) who have had microscopic misses to ambitious goals. It raised the question: at what point do you stop beating up yourself and move on? There’s a balance between being accountable and letting that accountability paralyze you.

If you’re one of these people, blend your strong sense of responsibility with a robust dose of resiliency. They work hand in hand and will help move you forward to the next milestone.

Have a great week!


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