The Art of Messing Up – Or – Hair Don’ts

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I messed up. Back in April when I was living in Chicago, I wanted a change, and so I cut my hair. I wanted something a little more edgy. I had the sides cut significantly shorter than normal and kept the top long. I received really good feedback from my friends in the city (my family in the suburbs, well, that’s a different story), but overall, I really liked the new “do.” Unfortunately, my print agent was not pleased. And now, I understand why! I made the mistake of not letting him know first. Ultimately, my new haircut completely changed my brand. With print work, I was being marketed a little more mainstream, a little more “All-American,” and quite honestly, it was starting to work for me. I was starting to get attention from clients. I was on hold for a great project.


Unfortunately, with my new cut, my agent had to send new photos to the clients in order for me to get re-approved for the job I had already booked. And do you know what happened? I lost the job. I could see the money being flushed down the drain because of one bad career move: my new haircut. And to make matters worse, I caused a riff with my agent.


Needless to say, I lost plenty of sleep over this. My career is arguably the most important thing to me (which may not be healthy. That’s another blog for another day), and one mistake set me back big time.


I know what you’re thinking. “Eric, it’s just hair. It will grow back.” And you’re right! And hey, it did! But in the moment, that’s not important. What’s important is that I messed up and caused a major setback just when the ball was starting to roll.


Has this sort of situation ever happened to you? It may seem extremely trivial to your support system, but to you, it feels like the end of the world. You know this isn’t actually true, but sometimes your emotions have ZERO intelligence, and to suppress your emotions based on intellect would be very damaging.


As I do often in moments of confusion, let me turn to my biz-Guru, Bonnie Gillespie:


It’s not the one thing you do, it’s all the things you do.


Sure, I had a setback that cost me in more than one way, but this gentle reminder that one action does not make or break my value? That matters.


This cause-and-effect moved me to reflect on where I spend my time and energy. It turns out I put much more weight in the few mistakes I make instead of the many things I feel I’m doing right. Sound familiar?


So the takeaway? Try this . . .


  1. Mess up. (It’s inevitable.)
  2. Note the damage you’ve done.
  3. Ask yourself what’s at stake. What’s the worst that could possibly happen from this error in judgment on your part? Are you there yet? Fine. Feel that. Note those feelings.
  4. Understand that no matter what’s at stake in the worst possible outcome, it’s highly unlikely this outcome will actually come to fruition. Is the world going to cease existing? Will you be annihilated because of your mistake?
  5.  Learn and thank the Universe for the learn.


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