The best plans and actions sometimes lead to mediocrity. No matter how much energy and effort is expended, a project can just sit lifeless and unproductive. One of the best parts of being a kid was getting to call a "do-over" when a game or project didn't go the way you planned. You simply took a moment to reflect and reset, and then jumped back in. Ever wish you could do that now?
Well, why can't you?
Does being a grownup mean that you can't backtrack when you've gone the wrong way or reconsider if you've made a poor decision? Even great golfers take a mulligan once in a while without embarrassment when they shank it.
Here are five opportunities to call "Do Over!" and start making immediate, positive change that will make you feel better and increase your odds of success.
1. Get rid of that mess everyone made.
Every environment has one: that annoying thing that everyone in the office hates because it causes headaches and just doesn't work. Maybe it is a company policy that is behind the times, a project that can't seem to get off the ground, or a program that no one can implement successfully. Sometimes the mistake is obvious, but often nobody can figure out why it doesn't work. Either way, it's a mess, and no one takes ownership. Have the guts to call "Do over!" even (especially!) if the idea was yours in the first place. Suspend the action that is causing the problem. Ask others to help create an alternative that will better fit your current needs, and put together a team to implement it.
2. Scrap the Peter Principle.
Rarely does a leader assign a task or position to someone he or she doesn't believe is motivated or capable. But sometimes it ends up being a bad fit. The pain to those involved is only slightly worse than that of the bystanders who endure the unhappiness and ineptitude. No one needs to stay in a "position of incompetence." If someone is not stepping up or growing into a role he or she has been given, open a discussion about moving him or her to other responsibilities. You might be surprised at the relief the person feels. If you have been moved into a position that fits you like a bad suit, have the bravery to admit it. Come up with a plan for a better use of your skills.
3. Revamp the marketing that just never worked.
So often marketing campaigns exist simply because no one wants to admit they don't work. Yes, somebody birthed that baby, but that doesn't mean someone else shouldn't point out that it's ugly and offends. It doesn't take years to know whether a campaign is effective. If you have done your planning correctly, you should have the metrics to show success or failure. Don't throw more good money and effort after bad. Call the team together and start developing something better that pays off handsomely.
4. Help someone revitalize or reinvent him- or herself.
Perhaps you have been watching a friend, colleague, or employee struggle. He or she has the skills and the desire to do well, but somehow they got lost in the weeds. Help him or her realize that his or her time and energy can be better used elsewhere. Guide him or her to find the time and space he or she needs to get back on track. Perhaps it means helping him or her gracefully bow out of a responsibility or obligation that is drowning him or her. Or maybe it is just serving as a sounding board as he or she thinks of his or her preferred future. Regardless, start with the truth: Tell him or her what you see, express your concern and your interest in his or her well-being, and offer to help.
5. Ask forgiveness or let go of a grudge.
Relationships sometimes need a reset, too. It's frustrating to come to the office every day when you have ongoing conflict with someone. If you have made an error in judgment, a bad call, or a faux pas, you can't necessarily expect others to forget. But you can ask them to forgive. When people see you can own up to mistakes and show humility, it clears the air and likely increases the respect others have for you. If someone else has messed up, let him or her know you're ready to move forward. You don't have to let him or her off the hook for bad behavior or poor judgment. But you can create an environment where personal feelings don't distract from what really matters.
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