Great Mistakes

November 25, 2011

@work

“In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.”   – John Ruskin

Early in my career I had a boss who pulled me aside after a convention to tell me that a particular dress that I had worn during the convention was a little “too short” and had generated comments from other women in our organization.  He suggested that I retire the dress and use better judgement in my wardrobe selection.  He then bolted out of the room so that I had no chance to throw the hot potato back at him.

Wow.   I was stunned.  I was angry.  It wasn’t fair!

Who complained? I wanted to talk to her!  Was the other girl who had the same dress (different color) getting the same feedback?  She should!  Why was it the women who complained (I mentioned this was early in my career, right?)?

I felt humiliated, outraged, and indignant all at the same time.  How could I fix what happened?  I couldn’t.  All I could do was make different choices going forward.  The

mistake was made and I could only control the next decision.

It turned out the chat with my boss was a gift.  I didn’t want my clothes distracting anyone from my competencies as an employee.  I couldn’t afford to be dismissed as someone who was either clueless about my appearance or indifferent to the perception of others.  I had to swallow my pride at being told how to dress. It was a trade-off between pride and humility; between repeating a mistake or acknowledging one.

The dress was donated.

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