Last week I published some thoughts on failing, a post to myself but probably words many need to hear. As always I had more experience failing this week. If this had happened to me even just a couple weeks ago I would have described it as a “disaster”. Here is the story:
The Business Development Team for Envision Atlanta started a window cleaning company in the spring of 2017 (you can read more about that here if you’d like). I’ve made many mistakes along the way but after a little while, you start to believe that you should have everything figured out by now and then tend to be even harder on yourself than you should be. This is where I’ve landed, forgetting the journey of learning never ends.
Once a month we clean windows at a local thrift store. In the spring and summer, the store often uses window paint to decorate the storefront windows. Normally we just work around it and use water-less or low water cleaning techniques. This time however one of the managers asked if we would take the paint off, I immediately said yes, thinking the soapy water would take it right off. I sent the other half of my crew out to start cleaning the paint using a magic eraser. It didn’t do a thing. I then tried a razor blade specially made for windows. It was doing a poor job, but we were going to have to spend hours of extra labor to remove all the paint. After finishing the first window and starting the second it hit me. Mistake #1: not testing my tools on the paint before agreeing to do the task.
Humbled, I walked back into the store and told the manager I was going to need to charge extra for the windows, that it was going to take me hours to remove the paint. She needed to check with a superior to get the ok. I went back to work on the windows we had already started knowing that those would have to be finished regardless of the decision. She came back out and asked how much I would need to charge, “Two dollars a window, so $16 total.” It immediately sounded very low coming out of my mouth. “That’s fine,” she said with no hesitation. Mistake #2: pricing myself lower than the work is worth.
My gut had told me to ask for $5 a window and I blew it, I could have always gone down and would have probably gotten at least $3.
At this point, I was curious as to what they had used to paint the windows. Mistake #3: Not asking what they used before agreeing to any of this. Wouldn’t you know it said right on the paint marker how to remove it! At this point, my mood changed from disappointment and frustration to excitement. It was finally hitting me I was in the position to learn and to grow from my series of errors. As a window cleaning my knowledge had expanded. It was a moment of grace poor out by God. Wisdom was given and answers supplied even though I wasn’t actually looking for either, most of the time I am content to sit in my frustration, this time I got back up.
The irony in all of this is that our business team meetings are called “What Went Wrong Wednesday” (we can’t meet on Fridays due to scheduling conflicts so “Failure Friday” is not usable). The point of the meeting is to normalize failure as part of the process of growth and learning process and as a way to help each other as a team and grow us closer together.