WE all make mistakes. But it’s how you follow up that matters.
It’s an issue Barry O’Farrell faced up to recently.
And it arose for me, too, on holiday after an incident with a coffee drip filter machine.
Granted, my incident wasn’t as earth-shattering as Barry’s.
The course of NSW politics was not altered.
The Premier did not have to stand down.
Well not for that at least.
But let’s not understate how devastating it is to ruin the coffee after a morning power walk.
People’s karma hangs in the balance.
The whole rhythm of breakfast is on the line.
You may have run out of beans.
But things happen.
My question is this: Should you own up if things happen because of you?
Particularly if you think people don’t know things happened because of you?
Barry answered in the affirmative to that one, once the fax with his signature on it showed up at ICAC. Until then, it kind of looked like he was leaning the other way.
And for that, I can relate to the man.
Let he who has not tilted after a few vinos cast the first aspersion.
Just quietly though, I reckon the only way I’d forget receiving a $3000 bottle of Grange was if I’d drunk a couple beforehand.
But Barry will be on $160,000 per year super for the rest of his life, so perhaps it’s not such a harsh landing.
In my case there was no such safety net.
My reputation as a “can do” guy was on the line.
I’d stepped up manfully after coming back from the morning stroll.
And just on strolls for a moment, why is it we become so active on holiday?
Normally you have to drag me out of bed to go to work.
On holidays, we become absolute exercise bunnies.
I thought we were going up the coast to do nothing, not ultramarathon morning walks.
Must be all that fresh air.
At least now I know where all those people who take early retirement go.
They go on early morning walks.
And rides, and swims and stand-up paddle boards.
Talk about peak hour.
“Morning. Ting ting.”
Bloody baby boomers.
Good luck to them I suppose.
Although I say that through gritted teeth as the government debates raising retirement to the age of death.
Anyhow, we got back from the walk and I stepped up manfully to get the coffee on.
And not just because of the ever present suggestion that I do nothing in the kitchen unless prompted. I’d already made my own own cereal.
I’d just wanted coffee to be ready when I was. It would be ready for everyone else too.
Enlightened self-interest, as they say at ICAC.
I was dealing with the coffee drip filter machine that we’d dealt with last year.
The same one that had spewed coffee up all over the benchtop because we’d failed to put the filter in.
So we knew there was a trick to making it work.
It’s how you follow up mistakes that matters, remember.
But I must have got distracted by the equation for how many heaped table spoons of coffee you put in a drip filter.
Because it’s a key question.
Goldilocks doesn’t want their coffee too strong or too weak, they want it juuuuust right.
And if you fail to deliver, well, your name is mud, like the coffee.
Anyhow, I piled the coffee in with great mathematical care, balancing out the water to beans, and got the machine sparked up, hoping soon to hear the reassuring sounds of hissing hot water and dripping coffee.
Imagine my alarm then when the coffee started to spew up in familiar fashion all over the benchtop and nearby phone book.
Talk about a mess.
Physical and emotional.
Naturally, I led the outbursts.
Because my fruit and muesli was going lumpy.
A first world problem of the highest order.
Everyone else adjourned to the balcony leaving me to work it out.
In the back of my mind, I suspected they may think I was to blame.
Amazing insight, eh.
But how could it be so? I’d been so careful.
I’d cleaned the filter. I’d made noises about how important it was not to leave it out.
And then I’d left it out.
Oh well, I guess it’s how you follow up the mistake after you make the same mistake that matters.
Otherwise you start to suffer chronic self-doubt.
About 10minutes later I emerged with fresh coffee and a big smile and pretended to be the guy who’d fixed the problem.
(That I’d caused.)
Just like Barry, I’d had a massive memory fail.
I wasn’t sure if anyone else realised.
Until a family member blithely asked: “Leave the filter out did you?”
I’d followed up the mistake I’d made after the first mistake with another mistake – admitting guilt.
Now family members will bring it up for the rest of my life: “Do you remember that time we were on holiday and there was that coffee machine ... ?”
Talk about having a Barry.