Messing up – an opportunity

Social media is a strange beast. It allows us to photoshop our lives to the extent that very few actually post anything but smiles, clinking champagne glasses and beautifully plated meals. Of course that is not reflective of life.

I recently took a group of women on a 5 day hiking / pilates / foodie experience in the Atherton Tablelands, this being part of our transition from international outbound tourism operator to domestic packages.

I knew we didn’t nail it. But I thought we were sitting at a 7 out of 10 – certainly not to our usual standard and nothing to be complacent about. But OK, given this is new to us. Imaging having that thought process, then receiving feedback from guests that was – let’s call it – quite brutal.

Comments referred to a broad range of areas including the hikes themselves, the organisation, the food, even some safety aspects. To say I was shattered is an understatement. I had clearly let down my guests, worse, the referrer who sent them to me, and worst of all, my team and myself. We are better than this. We. Don’t. Get. Bad. Feedback.

I reacted the way many would – I cried for two days. The only time I let up on myself was when I was asleep – and that didn’t happen much.

I ignored my husband who told me it wasn’t as bad as I thought. He was wrong. It was worse.

I talked to a few trusted and supportive people, giving differing levels of detail depending on how trusted and how supportive. Many expressed surprise – commenting that it looked great on Facebook. Others – bless them – told me to not worry about ‘a few people who clearly didn’t know any better’. They were trying to be kind. But it didn’t help. I don’t, nor have I ever believed, in shifting responsibility. I had to own this.

I still feel sick when I think about it. But already I’m a better person. I have owned this.

And in doing so, I’m owning the positive comments as well. They said we were lovely people. I’m hanging onto that.

I’ve pulled the product apart and worked through everything that went wrong and why. I’ve started the research on other options to include. I’m not rushing that – one of the joys of living in the Cairns region is we have plenty of options on our doorstep.

I’ve identified times leading up to this disaster when I wasn’t really taking enough notice – and attention to detail is not my strong suit anyway. But that’s the only time I’ve looked backward – the rest is about moving forward, learning the lessons and making us better – actually, making us the best.

I’ve created new spreadsheets to support our product development. They’re beautifully colour coded (not everything has to change!). I’ve written down every bit of advice or feedback I’ve had from my network, then refined those messages.

Two people in particular have been incredibly helpful. They don’t know each other and have very different styles, but my conversations with both centred around my Why. Basically, I felt I’d lost it.

And once I realised that, the rest began to flow.

Opportunity for future blog on finding My Why!