March 01, 2011
On Tuesday I crossed something off my moral and mental to-do list that had been gnawing at me for months.
A while back, I did some writing for a client and he explained that I didn't get it right. I sent him a revision and never heard back.
Background: beyond being a client, "Rupert" has been a friend and counselor/mentor for years. Even without the personal connection, I felt very uncomfortable to leave things hanging, but especially because of the broader context I felt especially embarrassed.
I wrote it on my white board, expecting that to motivate me: Call Rupert.
I wrote it into my cell phone agenda, hoping I'd decide to dial his number in the car, on a walk, anywhere: Call Rupert.
I stared at that command in both locations for weeks, but I stopped short every time, wondering what I'd tell him when he picked up the phone.
Should I start with an apology, or find out why he didn't like the revision, or ask if he'd been busy? Was he mad or just focusing on work? Should I start with small talk about our families, and then ask him how business is going?
Finally without a moment of premeditation or a plan, I just picked up the phone and called.
"I just wanted to tell you how embarrassed I am about how this turned out. I really wanted you to be happy and I'm sorry it wasn't want you wanted. Then I got busy with other projects and now it's February. How can I make things right?"
He was gracious as always.
He explained why the revision wasn't good either, but gave me some information I didn't have before: info about how what I wrote missed an important point and focused too much on other elements. He said I should definitely revise and send it back.
I concluded the conversation relieved and grateful. And with a post-it note with the new guidelines he gave me. Back to the drawing board!
Lost: that feeling of guilt and shame
Gained: one more chance