So leaving journalism for PR is a walk into the dark side. Did you know that? Apparently, we publicists live in the shadows like vampires I guess. I don’t know where I read that, but it obviously stayed with me, which brings me to a recent post about that New York Times blogger who gave publicist Amanda Miller a hard time for the crime she committed by pitching and in the process offending him by referencing kids as accessories. Okay, bad word choice and she probably should’ve never included him on her distribution list. After directing another PR pro to the post, he wrote back to me with this wise assessment: “That was something. The scary thing is that this pitch sent to a fashion magazine wouldn’t have even turned a head – that sort of thing is normal in their world. She just made the mistake of sending it to one of the toughest business journalists in the world.”
And so it goes . . . she just made the mistake of . . . You can fill in the blank here and we could all probably come up with pages and pages of mistakes we’ve all made. Luckily for most of us, however, our mistakes are generally left within the dust of our own private paths, not those hung up in public. But we should all take lessons from each other. What mistakes have you made? I’ve made a few. Well, maybe more than a few. Okay, a LOT, but that would be over time. I do try to learn from them though. I wrote about that once in one of my books (Wish It, Dream It, Do It: Turn the Life You’re Living into the Life You Want; Simon & Schuster). The chapter is titled “Perform Mistake Magic,” something my fabulous editor came up with. In any case, in that book, each chapter begins with a set of seven questions (why I decided on seven I will never know; I don’t particularly like that number and it’s odd, something else that makes me a little nervous versus even . . . ), because, honestly, when we ask ourselves questions we tend to force the truth upon the situation at hand. So I leave you today with first a quote and then the seven questions:
“There’s nothing final about a mistake, except its being taken as final.”
—Phyllis Bottome, “The Plain Case,” Strange Fruit (1928)
Here are the questions:
1. Do I admit my mistakes?
2. How accepting am I of other people’s mistakes?
3. Do I forgive myself when I’ve made a mistake or do I feel unworthy?
4. Do my mistakes bring me to a standstill or do they help me move on?
5. Do my mistakes define who I am?
6. Is my life richer because of the mistakes I’ve made?
7. Can I achieve my dreams without ever making mistakes?
We all make mistakes. That’s what makes us human. But this business doesn’t exactly embrace the consequences associated with these errors in judgment (a kinder, gentler way of phrasing a screw-up). As we all know, we’re not exactly rewarded for the mistakes we make. But our mistakes offer a reward, if we choose to see them as a lesson to be learned instead of a source of shame.