2013 has been an amazing year on many accounts. Most notable of these is that my family and I moved to Spain, marking a new and beautiful chapter in an already charmed family life.
Also, 2013 represents the first 12 months of searching for a viable startup business through experimentation – well, almost 12 months.
This brings me to FUALMO.
Fuck Ups are inevitable.
This year has seen me fuck up repeatedly. Mostly with my startup and with my relationship with Katharine – my wife, my partner, my BFF, my ideas bouncer – basically my everything rolled into one beautiful package.
Being absolutely focused on my startups has meant being all consumed by it and being all-affected by what I am experiencing as I build things – the disappointments and the joys (actually there have been far more of the former and too few of the latter – but hey ho!).
I’ve been moody, snappy, inattentive, intolerant and lost in my own thoughts. I have overburdened her, taken her amazing resilience for granted, communicated poorly and generally been a grumpy ass for a good part of the year.
Apologise – as soon as it’s safe to do so.
One of my enduring strengths is my ability to reflect – almost immediately – on my behaviour. It has often been difficult but I have also learnt to apologise sincerely for my contribution to disharmony.
I used to apologise simply to keep the peace – without really thinking deeply about what it meant to me and to the other person – hey don’t judge me!
But now I tend to apologise with an added description of what I am apologising for. I find it helps me fully understand what I consider the damage I may have done and knowing I need to do this helps me really think about how the other person feels.
Thankfully Katharine helps this by being open to my apology and providing an insight into how my behavior affected her.
Learn – otherwise what is the point?
Every fuck up is an invitation to understand what need was unmet and to learn more about myself. One huge learning that I made this year was that I a lot of my behavior is down to a need to not be interrupted in thought. I think deeply about stuff. This year has been mostly about startups, what my passion is and home cinemas (yeah – who knew!). But through reflection and analysis of my behavior I learned that I resented being interrupted when I was deep in thought about something. It rarely matters what the interruption – from being called to supper or being invited to a family walk.
Now that I know this is a need I have, I can communicate it and find ways to accommodate it in a more effective and harmonious way.
The difference between failure and truly fucking up is learning. I leave you to figure out which way it works.
Move On – because no one should take that much abuse.
Finally what has really helped me this year has been my improving ability to move on from a fuck up. Some fuck ups have been bigger than others and the time it takes for me to move on from them has varied but, almost without exception, I have been about to get closure on a fuck up.
I am convinced that the steps leading to moving on are critical to being able to just let things go. Without sincere apology, I cannot learn deeply and without learning (and the actions they lead to) I cannot see how I could really move on.
Moving on is essential to my mental and emotional well-being. Without it, things boil and bubble, fury simmers – waiting for the next spark to turn into an explosion. I am lucky that I can recognise when I haven’t moved on – because the new irritation has something to connect to. But through more reflection and sometimes conversation with Katharine I am able to move on from the fuck up.
So whilst this might never make it to Oprah and I’m certainly no Dr Phil – I hope you will consider FUALMO as a sanity-preserving technique to cope with real life. It works for me and it might work for you. Even if you totally ignore everything else I have shared, please consider finding effective ways to move on from behaviors that you do not feel proud off.
Here’s to a 2014 of many failures and fewer fuck ups.