The Sustainable Success Podcast, Episode 023


A couple years ago, I realized that I had made an assumption about one of my clients that led to me skipping over some really important work with them — which ultimately slowed down their progress and ability to expand.

Naturally, I felt like sh*t when I realized what had happened. After I had worked through some of those emotions, I then reached out to the client to own up to my mistake — one of the most simultaneously liberating and terrifying actions I had taken up to that point in my business.

In todays’ episode of The Sustainable Success Podcast, I share what happened next.

Episode 023. When you inevitably “get it wrong” with a client, here’s what to do

I also walk you through exactly what YOU can do when YOU make a mistake with a client, so that you can not only rectify the situation with the client, but also how to set yourself up to not repeat this mistake in the future.

Before you go and listen, I’ll leave you with this:It’s entirely normal to make mistakes (we’re human after all!). So much so that us making mistakes in our businesses actually isn’t that newsworthy or notable. What really matters is not the mistake itself, but rather how we respond to it. I share how to do so in episode 023. Tune in today wherever you listen to podcasts!

This transcript has been automatically created and minimally edited/formatted. As such, there may be some errors in the text.

[Episode preview]

Life would be so simple if we never made mistakes, but we are human and we do make mistakes, which means that since we are humans running businesses, we are going to make mistakes in our businesses as well. Sometimes those mistakes are going to not affect anyone unless sometimes they are going to affect other people. But the mistakes we make aren’t actually the issue. The mistakes don’t have to define us. And actually what really matters is how we respond to the mistakes.

[Podcast Intro]
Hey, welcome to the Sustainable Success podcast. This is your home for honest conversations about building and running an online business that brings you as much joy as it does revenue. I’m Carly Jo Bell, the Sustainable Success mentor and your guide on this journey with self trust as your North Star and foundations under your feet, you’ll be able to look external for ideas, internal, for answers and build your business your way. Let’s dive in.

[Episode begins]

I was leading a group program a few years ago and in the final months of it, I realized that I had made an assumption about one of the participants that I had assumed that this person had things figured out and just didn’t need support from me or really not any support, but that they didn’t need as much support from me. And we could talk about why I made this assumption part of which was if I’m being totally honest, something that I had to later work through with my DE I coach. But how it essentially played out was that I assumed this business owner had a lot of the core pieces of our work figured out. And so I just didn’t take the time to go through those foundational pieces with them like I did with other participants. I rather kind of just like skipped ahead to more advanced topics with this particular person. Now, when I realized that that assumption had been made, that I had made, that assumption is actually how I should say that and that I had unconsciously not been as proactive in my support for this person. I’ll be honest, I felt like super shitty. It was just that moment of, oh my gosh, like, how could I have done that? I’m a horrible person. That was truly my first response to myself once I was able to work through those, some of those feelings and you know, that kind of weight of shit. Like I totally dropped the ball here. I was able to then come to a place of not being like, you know, stuck in the mud there, still owning. I had made a mistake and I asked the client at the end of one of our sessions, our individual sessions, if we could stand a little bit longer and talk in that conversation. I admitted that I had made an assumption about where they were in their business and what they already had in place, which meant that they didn’t get the deep dive attention that I had given to other members of the group in response to that they shared that they had noticed that they had felt really confused and even a bit hurt by that, especially because they did know like Carly is the kind of person who cares about clients having these foundational pieces in place. We were able to talk it through. I mean, obviously I’m totally abbreviating this. I apologize and then I did what we’re here to talk about in this episode. I did everything in my power to make it right in the case with this particular client that looked like having extra one on one sessions with them to really like work through those pieces, some of which continued, even after their time in the group program had wrapped up in some ways. Life would be so simple if we never made mistakes, but we are human and we do make mistakes, which means that since we are humans running businesses, we are going to make mistakes in our businesses as well. Sometimes those mistakes are going to, you know, not affect anyone unless sometimes they are going to affect other people. But the mistakes we make aren’t actually the issue. There is nothing inherently wrong with making mistakes. It’s actually how we respond to having made a mistake. That is really what matters. And so building up the capacity to both recognize when we have made a mistake and then doing what we can to make it right is such an essential skill of an expanded entrepreneur. If we know that you are going to make mistakes in your business, like that’s just a granted, we, you know, just we cannot ever even imagine a business where you are not going to make mistakes. Then we get to as the business owner, as the person who is responsible here in, you know, for leading, well for rectifying wrongs for all of those things, we get to begin preparing to make mistakes today. So let’s talk about how to do. So, the very first thing that we have to do as business owners, if we want to begin to prepare to be able to make mistakes is to normalize within ourselves, that we will make mistakes. And in fact, even going one step further, we want to begin building capacity to make mistakes. We want to be able to eventually come to a place where we make a mistake. And instead of maybe getting stuck in like a shame spiral or, you know, even going into total reactive mode where it’s like now we have to blame other people around us. We wanna be able to come to a place where we can recognize that we’ve made a mistake, feel the feelings, we’re gonna talk about that in a little bit. But then ultimately, like, step back into a place of power in terms of, hey, I made this mistake. I’m taking responsibility for it. It doesn’t define who I am and I’m going to now do what I can to make it right. That’s the ultimate goal. But in order to get anywhere near that, we wanna start slowly by slowly building up our ability to make mistakes. And I do just think I need to bring a note of nuance in here. We are never going to be done with this work of being ok with making mistakes. And obviously, we’re never going to get to a place where we’re just not gonna make mistakes like this is ongoing work. And also in many ways, I actually think it’s really beautiful work that continues deepening kind of the further you go down the sort of spiral staircase of growth in this area. One of the best ways that I found to build up this capacity to get it wrong to make mistakes is to simply start by acknowledging where I’ve gotten it wrong or even where I am like actively getting something wrong. And we can start really small with this. In fact, like I actually think sometimes it’s better to find something really teeny tiny, like is there a really teeny tiny mistake that you’ve made or is there a really teeny tiny thing that you got wrong maybe in the last week or the last month? I’m not sure why it is coming to me right now as the example and maybe it’s quite telling that the example that’s coming up is not a memory of me making a mistake, but that’s a different conversation. I remember one time when I was younger, I was in the car, my parents were driving and I can’t remember like who was, who, who was driving, who was the passenger. But whoever was the passenger said, oh, we need to turn down this road and the driver was like, no, we don’t, we need to go this way. And I mean, you know, fast forward turns out, we did indeed need to turn down that road. And so whoever was the driver made a mistake and we had to backtrack to get to where we were going. I bring that because it’s a, it’s a relatively inconsequential mistake, right? It’s like nothing really bad happened. We just had to turn around and go back to the road. It’s not a big deal. We all make mistakes though throughout our lives through our day to day. And if we can start to become conscious of the moments where we make mistakes or where we get something wrong, even just that awareness can help us to begin normalizing. Oh I’m a human. I make mistakes which that in and of itself can be so potent and so supportive of the next steps that we’re gonna talk about in terms of what to do when you do make a mistake or get it wrong with a client. You can even though take this a step deeper kind of going beyond just that mental awareness level and more into the body somatic level by noticing, oh I made that mistake. I said no, we don’t have to turn down that road even though we did noticing what sensations arise in our body around the awareness of these little teeny tiny mistakes, a perpetual mistake it feels like or an area where I have consistently gotten it wrong, at least in the recent phase of my life that I’m constantly doing, it feels like it forgetting to reply to friends messages. Now this is something that I am very proud to report that I am getting better at. So, you know, we’re we’re making progress, but there was a very real phase of my life where I would, you know, get a text message from a friend. I’d be like, oh yeah, I need to respond. I forget to respond a week would go by and I randomly remember and instead of being like, oh, I just, you know, no big deal, I’ll respond. Now, I would go into this like shame cycle, you know, I’d get this huge lump in my throat, my stomach would get all twisty, my chest would feel heavy. And especially, and really, unfortunately, while I was experiencing that, and I was in that kind of phase with this getting to reply to friends messages, I didn’t have the kind of somatic understanding back then. And so when those sensations would arise, that twisty like stomach and the lump in my throat and the heaviness, I would just try to run away from them. It would just be like, nope, shutting it off, not paying attention to that. But if I was able to go back to that moment with the, you know, understanding and the tools that I have today, what I actually would have done is sitting with those sensations as they arose, like really just simply being like, oh hello, I feel that tightness in my throat. We do this because by even just sitting with a sensation for one second longer then feels comfortable. We’re increasing our capacity to face that experience without being just like, completely overtaken by it. I’ll share a personal example of this to kind of like, hopefully cement this a little bit more. There was a situation in my personal life a few months ago that I kept waking up, feeling really anxious about. And one morning when I felt that way, I woke up kind of in a start, I had that anxiety. I decided that instead of like, even doing, you know, deep breathing to try to help it go away or getting up and shaking or doing yoga. Like I was like, no, I’m actually just gonna feel it. I’m just gonna notice it. And that morning where I decided, no, you know, I wonder what would happen if I just sat with this and I noticed it I probably had is maybe three minutes where this really intense heat rose up in my body and it just covered the whole front of my torso in my face in those three minutes. Oh my gosh, they were intense. But because of, you know, different work that I’ve done, I was able to stay present in my surroundings, like I knew I was safe, even though this sensation was so intense. And then what do you know the sensation like completely went away after those three minutes or whatever it was like I moved to the other side of it, which was wild. And then there were, I, I’m not gonna say, oh, that I never felt it again. There were a few more times after that, that I would wake up with that anxiety. And every time then that that happened, I would let myself just feel it. And each time it got a little less intense and the eventually it kind of has come to a place now where that particular situation again in my personal life doesn’t bring anywhere near the same rise out of me. Simply because by allowing myself to feel the sensation rather than just ignore it. Try to get rid of it, just actually feel it sit with it. I built up capacity to face the experience that was causing that sensation to show up inside of me. No, I do just wanna put a little kind of like plug here. If you’ve never done this kind of somatics work before, it might be worth it to do this process with a therapist or trained practitioner of some sort because even just being able to like, feel the sensation while also knowing that you’re safe, like even that takes work. So that’s, yeah, just a little, a little thought there. But we want to start at least again on the mental awareness level with recognizing that we’re human and being a human means that we’re going to make mistakes. We are running businesses, which means we will make mistakes in our businesses and of those mistakes are going to cause harm in varying degrees to the people in our communities, our clients, our collaborators, like it’s going to cause harm and we, we wanna start with that and again causing harm. That doesn’t mean like, oh my gosh, you’re gonna literally traumatize someone. Hopefully that’s, you know, not something that is going to happen, but it, it’s just recognizing we’re going to make mistakes and some of those mistakes might be small, some of them might be bigger, we’re going to make them. And so can we start again even on just the mental awareness level with noticing where in your life, maybe even in an area that feels inconsequential to you like directions while driving or, you know, you’ll said something with like a close friend that, oh, you wish you would have said it differently? Like is there something that feels quite small in some way that you can start to just notice? Oh, hey, look, I made that mistake. Start building up that awareness of yes, I am someone who makes mistakes because we all are. But also building up a little bit of that normalization. Yeah, we all make mistakes and the mistake as we’re gonna keep talking about here doesn’t have to define you. But what really matters is how we are responding to the mistake. So as I said, this kind of capacity building work, this normalization work kind of ongoing. We could go really deep on all of that. So that’s not something that’s ever like, OK, check now we can move on to the next step, but we wanna kind of always be doing that to an extent in the background, not to like a level of, you know, I don’t know, almost obsession. Like look how horrible I am. I make all these mistakes. We don’t want that either. There’s a limit here, but we want to always kind of being in some way, just kind of preparing ourselves for the fact of Yeah, I’m going to make mistakes in my business because it’s just something that humans do when we do actually make a mistake with a client though. And I just want to normalize, you may have already made mistakes with your clients or with your community or anything like that. Like I’m not saying, oh, this is only if you’ve never made a mistake before, you very well might have made mistakes already. But when you do notice, oh, I have made this mistake or oh, whoops. Yep. Just made a mistake there. We then want to allow ourselves to notice it and to feel the feelings that arise around it. It’s sometimes so easy. Kind of like I was saying before to go in one of two directions. When we realize that we’ve made a mistake, we either wanna kind of just completely ignore it or pretend that it’s not there or sometimes we kind of do a full pendulum swing, especially when we’re first learning how to deal with the fact that we make mistakes with our clients are in our business or we then kind of go to the other side and it’s like we run all the way into it and it’s like we need the other person or the other people to know how bad we feel. How sorry we are, how horrible the mistake was. We know such a horrible person. You know, we like kind of wanna almost relish in it as a way to sort of prove we know. Look, yes, I know I made a mistake. I’m, I’m proving it. Look how bad I feel. The, some people of course, will also sometimes go into attack mode, right? If someone has pointed out, let’s say a client has pointed out, oh, business owner, you’ve made a mistake. Sometimes that business owner will go into that attack where it’s like, you know, oh, I never could have made that mistake or you’re wrong or whatever, you know, which is often a signal that the business owner has some more capacity building work to do. But we do want to before we even run into any amount of, ok. Now I’ve made the mistake. What do I do about it? We wanna actually just notice I have made this mistake and allow ourselves to feel our feelings about that. You know, when I think about the story that I shared at the beginning of this episode, imagine if I had gone to that client, the moment I realized I made a mistake, I told you when I realized I felt like shit, I literally went into, oh my gosh, I’m a horrible human. Imagine if I would have immediately reached out to the client while I was in those feelings, I would have been like, you know, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I did this. I’m just, I’m just the worst. How could I even done that? And then what ends up happening when you have that approach and you haven’t already sorted through some of your own feelings around. The fact that you’ve made the mistake is that now the person or the people who have been in some way to some level harmed by the mistake. Now, they have to comfort us, which is not their job. That’s certainly not their role in this interaction. And it ends up really causing more harm because it’s like, I’m so bad, I’m so horrible and they have to be like, no, you’re not. I promise it’s OK. No big deal. Now, they’re minimizing their own feelings in an effort to try to like, make you feel better. That is not supportive. So when you realize I’ve made a mistake, yep, I got it wrong with this client. All right, man. I really wish I wouldn’t have done that or I really wish I would have done it in a different way. We have to first and foremost, start with, ok, let me sit with my own feelings with this. Let me like, process through some of this because if I don’t, it’s very likely that I’ll end up just kind of like spewing these feelings onto the client or onto the, whoever it is and just end up causing even more harm and certainly not rectifying the situation. No, of course, even like if it is, you need to go talk to a therapist or you need to go talk to a coach or a mentor or a guide or whatever, even just like a trusted friend. If you do need to go talk to someone about it to like, help you process through. Great. Do it. You probably do wanna find someone who’s not at all connected to the situation. So that way it’s a little bit easier for them to not like, hold their own feelings about the situation as well. Once we’ve sat with us like feelings, the things that are coming up, we’ve processed through them a little bit and we’ve returned more to a place of kind of recognition of, yes, I did make a mistake, but that isn’t a, you know, like final judgment on my character or something like that. Like when we’ve been able to even just begin to normalize it a little bit more in our brains and not have that same like visceral response to the fact that we made that mistake from there. That’s when we can start to assess, ok, what actually happened and what can be done to rectify the situation. We want to start by getting really honest about what harm was actually caused, right? This is actually another reason why we wanna work through some of those feelings that come up within us when we do realize we’ve made a mistake first before even looking at, you know, are trying to understand exactly what harm was or, or was it likely to have been caused? Because if we don’t sort out the feelings first. And we try to be like, oh, my gosh, what was the harm? What was the damage? And we try to go straight there. It’s really easy to catastrophize and it’s like, it’s really easy to see. Oh, my gosh. The damage is huge. It’s not repairable. I’m the worst person. Like, it’s just, it’s so easy to go really big, even if something is not actually that big or the harm is not actually that big. So once we work through those feelings, then it is. Yeah. OK, let’s be really like clear here what harm was caused. Like maybe I have specific proof that there was harm caused or what am I sensing could actually be the harm. Like just as the example again, going back to the story I shared at the beginning when I realized I had made that mistake of kind of overlooking that this client didn’t have some of those pieces in place. I didn’t have any proof from the client that there was harm caused. Like they hadn’t come to me and said Carly, you know, you didn’t do this and yada, yada, yada that made me feel XYZ way or whatever, they didn’t come to me with that. So I didn’t have like tangible proof of, yes, this was, you know, the specific harm that was caused, but I was able to, you know, I’m a smart person, I’m sure you’re a smart person, like able to kind of think through. Well, whether or not they’ve noticed this, there was still harm caused in that this person didn’t get some of these very crucial pieces that they needed. So I was able to kind of work through, I’m gonna guess that harm was caused here, I was able to work through. I know that there was harm in this way, whether or not again they noticed it, which turns out that they didn’t. And then I also was able to kind of guess if they did notice it, then there’s probably some like hurt there. So that’s, you know, another piece of, of harm right now, obviously, when we, like, if we do have a conversation with the other party, we want to open up the floor to like, let them voice what it is or how they experienced the situation. But we want to at least start by trying to think through ourselves what is harm that either was like, specifically caused or, and, or might have been caused here. And then with that, you know, part of this is also becoming really clear on exactly who was affected by your mistake. Again, situation that I shared about at the beginning, the primary person and really in many ways, like the only person in that situation who was harmed was the specific person. But, you know, I can think of one other situation we’ll share about here where I kind of unintentionally instigated harm to a larger group of people. The example that comes to mind for me is that I am very vocal these days about not using money as the intended result. Messaging a few years ago in our business, I was using messaging like create your first or next 10-K cash month and you know, I’m not gonna go into why we don’t use that messaging here. I did a whole episode on it. It’s episode two of the podcast, but that was a shift in our messaging that I was making behind the scenes over the course of a year. And then toward the end of that year, I started becoming really vocal about it publicly. Now, I knew that that was like a very methodical well thought out shift that had very specific reasons for it. But to my audience, the shift seemed really sudden largely because I hadn’t brought them in to the process whatsoever. And so this really sudden shift brought up feelings for some people, you know, people who had bought my offers when I was using that messaging or people who had maybe not bought my offers or who had, but I had never really thought much about my messaging. But now we’re hearing me talk about why that messaging isn’t something I recommend and isn’t something that I use and seeing themselves in some of the experiences that I was talking about. So making that shift so abruptly, at least from the public point of view caused harm to some of the members of our HCO community. And as soon as I realized it happened again, I had to deal with my own feelings about it. But then I also had to realize there are many people in my audience that this abrupt shift has or has potentially caused harm to which then see that this is a larger group rather than an individual. Obviously, it is going to influence the steps that I take to rectify it. So once we’re clear on who actually has been harmed or is likely to have been harmed by this mistake or by me getting it wrong, we can then use that information to figure out how specifically to approach and rectify the situation. Of course, if it’s a particular person or maybe even just a small handful of people who were harmed, you might choose a more personalized approach where you reach out to people individually. Whereas if it’s a larger group that was harmed or you’re not even sure like specifically in that group who was or wasn’t harmed, then you might choose a more broad approach such as sharing maybe something on your email list or wherever it is that you are in connection with the people who are likely to have been harmed in that way. I think I’m saying harmed so much. And I just want to recognize that word of, you know, harming somebody might bring up feelings even for you. And so if that is like a oh my gosh, like I don’t ever wanna harm somebody. You might even wanna pause this episode and start to even just sit with the sensations that are coming up in your body as you imagine that you might harm somebody or that a decision you make or an action or an inaction might harm someone in your community or a client. Like, can you sit with that and even just, can you sit with that for like one extra second that is comfortable, just notice the sensation in your body. And if it’s really intense, again, maybe you don’t wanna do this work specifically on your own, maybe you want to bring in some sort of change practitioner to support you through that. Now, it all worked to rectify the mistakes that we’ve made or are making or do make, we really wanna maintain the energy of responsibility, right? It’s like I made the mistake, I’m the one who did this, but also it’s my responsibility to rectify it. You know, again, imagine that I had talked with that client that I shared about at the beginning. And in that conversation, I was like, oh, well, you know, you just seem so confident. So I just assumed that you had it figured out that is not taking any responsibility. That’s saying, well, it’s your fault that I assumed it’s not their fault that I assume. And, you know, we can go into silly nuances with this but even if like, let’s say that this client had portrayed, yeah, look, I could have it all together. Even in that case, I’m the business owner in this situation, which means that I’m in a position of power, which means that no matter what the client is doing or not doing, it’s still a responsibility to do my job. And also it’s my responsibility to take ownership when a mistake is made. Now again, there’s nuances, right. There’s certainly situations with clients where there’s maybe a kind of mistakes on all sides, like they’ve made mistakes, you’ve made mistakes. But even in those situations where there’s mistakes on all side, if we want to rectify the mistake that was made, or at least like the most recent mistake that was made. We as the business owner, the person who is naturally in the position of power has to take ownership of that and take responsibility for the mistakes that we made. And then often in these situations, especially where there are mistakes happening on all sides. A lot of those mistakes, I would almost guarantee you could have been prevented by the business owner creating a tighter container at the beginning of the work together, clearly communicating boundaries, expectations or even from the very beginning. Communicating here is what we’ll do if or when mistakes are made. Now, of course, from this energy of us actually taking the responsibility for having made the mistake, we want to apologize and naturally we want to do so sincerely. The reminder here though is that we’re not apologizing to make ourselves feel better, right? We don’t want to apologize to someone in the hopes that the other person might feel bad for us. We want to apologize as an act of taking responsibility. I am by no means an expert and the exact right way to apologize. But I can share from personal experience when I’ve been on the receiving end of an apology when the person apologizing uses very specific language. It’s like I am apologizing for specific thing, not just, oh I’m sorry, right. With that specificity, it helps me receiving the apology to actually feel like they mean it and to feel like they know what they’re apologizing for and that they maybe don’t fully understand yet but that they’re starting to understand how their actions or inactions or whatever it was affected me. After we apologize, we wanna look at how to rectify it. And this is something that, you know, again, it all really depends on context, but there might be an element of you wanting to think through some ideas first before going into a conversation with someone about, you know, hey, I made a mistake. You might wanna think through some ideas. What are some ways that I could see myself rectifying this in some situations though you might come up with ideas and then in the conversation with the other person or the other party. You might see that actually any ideas that you came up with weren’t the right thing that they would feel more supported by something else. Like you don’t wanna go in to obviously a conversation where you’re like hand taking ownership. I, I did this thing wrong or I made a mistake and say now here’s exactly the way that like, I’m fixing it sometimes you can, but especially in a one on one situation, you might actually wanna just bring up ideas saying like I would be happy to, as I did with this client again from the first story, I’d be happy to do some extra one on one sessions until you are at XYZ place until you are feeling confident that you have these foundational pieces down. And so offering that as here’s something that I would be willing to do and when seeing if that does feel honoring to them, it might not and it also might, but being willing to have that conversation and really exploring what it is that you can actually offer first and foremost, but also what it is that is going to help them to feel that you’re taking it seriously and that you are saying, no, I am gonna do what I what is in my power to make this right. There have been situations with our clients where they’ve made a mistake with one of their clients and you know, they’ve offered a partial or even a full refund or they’ve offered to do extra work or as I did offered to, you know, kind of continue sessions, there’s a whole bunch of different ways that you can rectify it. But you do want to think about what is going to be honoring to the other person and also keeping the floor open and not just coming in. This is exactly what we have to do, but rather like being open to their feedback on that as well. Now, you know, it’s a little bit harder when it comes to groups, right? Like in the example I shared where I kind of made this abrupt shift without communicating to people that we were making that shift and why we’re making it like bringing them into the process, you know, in that situation really, like, it wasn’t like I could have a conversation necessarily with someone specific and say, well, how can I rectify this in that situation? I had to think for myself. No, like what could I do here in my best efforts to rectify this? So I put out an apology and I sent that apology to my email list and shared it in the Facebook group as well. It’s on the blog even. And then beyond that, I also since then, have been really proactive in communicating what is happening behind the scenes, especially when I see that it’s a shift that is actually eventually going to be quite a quite a large shift or a significant shift. I even, you know, coming back to specifically the money focused messaging, something that we were still working on. At the point that I had started to publicly talk about it was that we had some resources and even a couple of courses that we’re still using that money focused messaging. And we were actively working to redo them and get them to a place where they weren’t relying on that messaging. But again, to kind of think about how can I rectify this with a larger group of people? I started to be more vocal about the process. Hey, we just redid powerful offers that transform so that it no longer includes that money focused messaging. And we also just made it 10 times better, you know, or hey, we’re redoing this course. So that way we can remove that money focused messaging. And again, also just like make it 100 times better. I just started to bring people into the process. So that way again, it was my little way of saying, I recognize that not bringing you into the process was in some ways harmful. So now I’m going to bring you into the process here. So as these things are happening, you can see, yes, we’re making the shows. Here’s why we’re making the shows. Here’s where we’re making them. We are actually committed to doing this. The unfortunate reality with mistakes or getting things wrong sometimes is that some mistakes can cause irreparable harm or like irreparable kind of fractures in relationships. And I think we all know this on some level, right? And so in these situations, you know, where maybe we have tried to do this process and it’s like, hey, I made this mistake, I’m sincerely apologizing, I’m taking ownership. And here’s, you know, some ideas of how we can rectify this in situations where maybe the other party or parties aren’t willing to accept that or, you know, for whatever reason are just not able to like, engage with that. We get to accept that as reality. Like it’s so easy, I think to try to, again, almost go into that. No, I promise like it’s gonna be ok. Like I know, I mean, this is like, I’m gonna fix it like it’s so easy to, to kind of try to keep going there, but we get to just trust the other people and not just trust, this is hard. It’s work, we get to trust so that other people are doing the best they can with what they have just like we’re doing the best we can with what we have. And sometimes that means that they’re not able to or willing to even just accept whatever we are trying to do to rectify the situation. And so we get to accept, hey, I made a mistake, it caused harm. I wasn’t able to rectify it fully or in part. And at the same time though accepting that fact doesn’t mean languishing in it. We get to find the kind of balance or blend between. Yes, I made a mistake and that mistake does not define you building up the ability to do. So that is a much deeper conversation that goes a little bit out of the scope of why we’re here today. But I wanna bring that in because it’s just a reality that there are going to be moments, especially the longer you run your business or you’re gonna make a mistake, someone is not gonna be ok with whatever you try to do to rectify that mistake. And like we ultimately get to order that, which might sound weird, but also at the same time, recognize and accept, yes, I made the mistake. But that mistake does not define my identity. Who I am. The final, often forgotten step in all of this is that we don’t want to just like, oh, I made a mistake. I’ve taken ownership. I am rectifying it in some way. In this situation. We want to pre empt that mistake from happening again and to do that, we want to explore what actually contributed to making this mistake happened when I look at the situation that I shared about in the beginning of this episode and that I’ve consistently referred back to, there was an implicit bias that I had that at that point I wasn’t aware of and I had to work through that intentionally there were also, you know, in addition to that some really practical things like as a really simple example, I needed to strengthen my onboarding to better understand where a client truly was prior to us actually really diving into the work together. Or to bring another example into this, I was supporting a different client a couple of years ago who had made a mistake with their own business with one of their clients. And of course, you know, we moved through this process, they had the conversation with the client, they did their whole thing right that we just talked about in this episode. But then we came back together, me and the client to look at what contributed to this mistake happening in this situation. I’m not going to get into all the details obviously, because it’s not my story to tell. But in this situation, the big thing was that her contract needed to be tightened up and also she needed to be from the very beginning of her client containers more clearly communicating boundaries and expectations and then throughout the container, maintaining those boundaries and expectations, that’s all a different conversation, of course. But for you, you do wanna think about, ok, you know, I’ve rectified the situation here. But how do we pre empt this mistake or getting it wrong in whatever way? How do we pre empt that from happening again? What was it that contributed its very likely several different things? But what was it that contributed to this particular mistake being made? One of the reasons that I wanted to share this episode is that I’ve noticed and even just in conversations with clients, but also, like, just with business owners in general, I’ve noticed a rise over the last two years in the number of business owners who are afraid of getting canceled. I’m going to pause after I say the word canceled there because I know that even that word can bring up some sensation for people. It used to, for me, like I have gone through phases absolutely where I was petrified of this idea of what if I get canceled? Even if I didn’t have something specific that I like could get canceled for at least, you know, from my perspective. But I would, I still kind of had that fear of, oh my gosh, what if I get canceled? It was in sometimes even consuming, it was very intense at points. What I’ve come to realize though is that again, to an extent anyway, you can’t really get canceled if you’re willing to own that, you made a mistake and then actively work to rectify it. However, it is possible. And within your control, of course, everyone will be happy with your response and everyone will be happy with your efforts to rectify. But that just even brings us back to what I was just saying, even with that, even if let’s say I did something and a whole bunch of people were really angry about it and were, you know, for all intents and purposes were canceling me. Even if that was happening, I would still get to decide. Hey, I made a mistake. I would still obviously, well, hopefully, anyway, take responsibility for that and do what I could to rectify it. But I would still get to ultimately decide and not just decide, but really embody that whatever that mistake might be does not define me as a human. We are all beautifully fucked up human beings. We have so many sides to us. We are all villains. We are all heroes. We are all so many things that society deems to be great and so many things that society deems to be horrible and everything in between. This almost brings us into like shadow work. That’s not why we’re specifically here. But I just again, I bring this here to you because if you have had that fear of getting canceled, that might be a sign that you have an opportunity to increase your capacity for making a mistake. And even, you know, if you wanna go a step further to begin learning to stand firmly in your own self perception, no matter what other people are saying about you, I wanna just recognize this has been a very big conversation. I applaud you for being here through all of it and I invite you, you know, when we sometimes when we have these big conversations. It’s like easy to just be like, ok, moving on with the next part of my day. Not really sitting with it. I invite you to however feels right to you. Spend some time sitting with whatever has come up for you throughout this conversation. Is it maybe that you wanna do some journaling? Do you wanna talk with a friend? Do you want to even just pause for one moment right now and ask, what do I want to hold on to or take away from this conversation on making mistakes or getting it wrong? There’s no right or wrong next step here. But it is again, this is just something that we kind of have to recognize as business owners. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to get it wrong. The mistakes don’t have to define us. And actually what really matters is how we respond to the mistakes. And if we wanna be able to respond to mistakes in a for lack of a better word productive way, we have to build up the capacity to do so to actually even just like make mistakes and you know, not get stuck in shame spirals about it, but then also building up that capacity and that know how to take ownership of the mistake to rectify the mistake, to ultimately stand in our own identity, regardless of whether or not our attempts toward rectifying it are received, sending you so much love and again, I really applaud you for sticking around for this conversation and choosing to intentionally engage with it.

[Podcast Outro]
Thanks for listening to the Sustainable Success podcast. You’re home for honest conversations about building and running an online business that brings you as much joy as it does revenue. I truly believe that these are the conversations we need to be having more of in our online business community. If you know too, would you leave me a review and/or share this episode with the friends?
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I know that so many of you are ready to take your next step in your journey of sustainable success, and I’d love to invite you to work with us using self trust as your North Star and foundations as your path. Me and my team are here ready to support you in getting paid really freaking well to do the work that you most love doing in the way you most love doing it, with the people you most love working with. We have freebies courses, group programs and even occasionally private coaching all set up to meet you where you’re at in business and with what you’re looking for. Head over to to take your next step on this journey of sustainable success.

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I’m Carly Jo Bell.

(Though you can just call me Carly.)

Carly Jo Bell is a business strategist and mentor, and fonder of Whole Co media. Through her courses and programs, podcast, and one on one coaching, Carly helps pulled-in-every-direction entrepreneurs create a business that brings in as much joy as it does revenue — by cultivating deep self trust, and solid foundations as the first step.

For more from Carly, and to learn about her signature “looking external for inspiration, and internal for answers” approach, join the conversation by signing up for her weekly email series, Carly's Couch.


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