Accepting there’s nothing I can do to change a bad situation frustrates me to no end. I usually try to hammer away at every possible option, analyzing the situation to death.
But not every situation has a remedy; sometimes crappy things happen and we just have to deal with the curveballs life throws at us.
As I work on my anxiety issues and overcoming perfectionist tendencies, I’m learning how to deal better with stress, and a big part of that is trying to remember not to “catastrophize” things big or small when problem-solving.
Today’s example has nothing to do directly with disordered eating; it has to do with work. But it’s relevant to my blog messaging so … away we go!
Though I’m the PR manager at a digital advertising agency and the agency is my “client,” if you will, I also play the role of account executive to a local non-profit client that is near and dear to our agency’s heart.
And since we’re purely an interactive agency, we don’t do print work for our clients anymore … except for this one pro-bono client.
That said, we’re introducing a new, year-long campaign this summer, and we were going to start it in the form of a newspaper insert that would be sent to 62,000 homes in the region and cost several thousand dollars out of the non-profit’s (minimal) budget and uploaded to the non-profit’s Web site.
The creative was beautiful, the copy compelling … The client loved it, my boss loved it. We were super-excited to see it come to fruition.
Then first-thing at work yesterday I found out that the newspaper used an OLD file that had a bunch of typos on it, instead of the NEW file my colleague sent the paper last week!
The paper’s rep had assured my colleague they’d destroy the old one (not just replace the file) and clearly, they didn’t. They also tried to shift the blame to us, which sucked even more, as we knew we’d done nothing wrong.
Upon hearing this, my stomach fell to the floor.
1) I’d have to tell my boss what happened, and even though it wasn’t directly my fault, I am the account executive for this client and she sits on the board of said client … so I’d need to accept being the fall gal.
2) I knew the marketing director of the non-profit would be pissed and devastated, as this was the first time anyone would see the new campaign but also because he’d have to take the heat from everyone under the sun who would call him pointing out errors, which made our work look amateurish at best and lazy at worst.
In reality, we had put painstaking effort into that finished product, and the newspaper messed up, plain and simple.
At first I was really upset. But then I remembered no one has been hurt, no one has died … it’s not the end of the world.
I tried not to “catastrophize” –something Dr. G. and I talked about in therapy. I tend to make big deals out of everything … drama queen to the tenth degree. But stressing about it wouldn’t solve anything. What’s done is done, it is what it is.
I hated the idea of owning up to something we didn’t do … but knew I needed to talk to my boss. Fortunately, she was not too upset; after years in the industry she knows these things happen and knew it wasn’t our fault.
The thing is, while we can make a change to a Web site’s content or an online media unit quickly for a client, once something is done in print, it’s a done deal (save for a reprint). There is no “going back” on a moment’s notice like there is in the digital world.
So after speaking to my boss and the creatives who put so much effort into this piece (only to see it printed in shambles!), I gathered my courage and called the client and spoke with him, trying to strike the right balance between being apologetic (but not too apologetic, as I tend to say “I’m sorry” too much) and conciliatory.
He was upset, naturally, but understanding — having worked together for many years, he knows the caliber of work we do here, the pride we put into everything we do. He also knew it wasn’t our fault … though it’s hard not to feel like I’m to blame when I’m the one giving such bad news (he had been out of town and hadn’t seen it yet).
He is in the process of asking the paper to print a correction, and I hope it happens.
It doesn’t help the situation much, since 62,000 households have already seen the incorrect insert, but my colleague found proof that we’d uploaded the correct image to the newspaper’s site–she’d printed a copy of the confirmation. So we know we’re in the clear — a little sweet justice for an otherwise ugly situation.
All in all, it was the icing on the cake of a morning that started craptastically with dropping a bottle of my favorite salad dressing (TJ’s Balsamic) from my lunch bag in the parking lot, and having it splashing up onto the legs of my favorite Joe’s jeans!
But here’s something to be proud of: I might have reeked like a salad bowl all morning and have been part of a screw-up at the office, but it wasn’t an excuse to beat myself up over it — or stress-eat.
And that’s something to be proud of.
How about you? Do you catastrophize? How do you avoid doing it?