October 14, 2012

By: 
Rachel Strella

Drifting into the Alternative Universe

By Ric Albano of 33 Dimensions

A few weeks ago, I made a mistake of omission, which set off a chain of unforeseen events. It caused a lot of problems for my client as well as a few dozen unplanned hours of problem-solving for myself.

Initially, it did not appear that there would be much of a disruption to the client’s service. After this initial mistake, the lesson learned was quite simple and straight forward – I should have done my due diligence and communicated better from the onset. However, things began unraveling with new issues seemingly arising out of nowhere. In my frustration, I found myself doing something that I absolutely loath when done by others. I started using the “alternative universe” excuse.

“If I had been told to ‘B’, ’C’, and ‘D,’ then I certainly would have approached ‘A’ much differently and all these problems would have been avoided.” This was certainly a true argument, as many of the subsequent problems could have been avoided if the client had disclosed all of the relevant information. Still, this was totally irrelevant, as it’s impossible to jump into that alternative universe where all problems are averted.

This foray into the scientifically unproven domain has become a trend these days. You hear it often from the losing side of a sports contest, and most especially, in the political world. “If I had been in charge, we’d now be in much better shape…” or “things may be bad now, but they would’ve been so much worse if not for my brilliant policies…” These statements are made as absolute fact and as a way to divert attention from the reality at hand.

The truth is, we only live in this one reality and we have to own the decisions we make here.This is especially true for small business owners like myself who don’t have much luxury for academic exercises and hypothetical situations. Not all our decisions will be correct, but once made they must be embraced either as building blocks for best practices or lessons learned for the future.

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One comment on “Drifting into the Alternative Universe”

  1. Rachel I so needed to read this. The other day in a one on one with my supervisor, I was corrected on a mistake I made. I had missed a deadline that held up some media plans our PR department was developing. My first instinct was to defend myself and explain all the factors that contributed to my late response, but ultimately, I realized that the situation was what it was. The fact of the matter was that I had missed the deadline. So what am I going to do about it? I can look for someone to blame or I can deal with the situation, acknowledge that I made a mistake and focus on how to make sure it didn't happen again. Thanks for confirmation in your post!

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