Sometimes we play a wrong note during a performance.

Or we stumble over a word while delivering a speech.

The mistake isn’t important; the recovery is what matters.

Do you keep the meter steady? Do you reset the cadence?

Or do you pull the emergency brake? Stop and grumble? Make a verbal apology?

The professional doesn’t live without error; she just recovers in a way that seems effortless. As a result, no one pays attention to the mistakes… if they’re even noticed at all.

What do I say?

If you come to a creative roadblock with the thought, “I’m not sure I have anything to say. I’m not confident that I have something to put into the world,” then perhaps you’re not engaged with the world.

To create engaging work, we start by doing the engaging. From that will come work that is compelling, and worthy of attention.

So when your mind seems blank (it’s not, of course) go engage. Talk to someone. Interact.

Encounter brings new life. New ideas. New understanding. New inspiration.

Missed deadline

One of the problems with missing a deadline is that once you’re late, the tension is released.

There’s no longer a rush to beat the clock. It’s overdue.

And for some missed deadlines, there’s nothing else you can do.

Like missing a flight, once you’ve missed it, you can’t miss it any worse. The plane is gone.


There are some projects and goals that tolerate a bit of flexibility.

If you’re past your mark, set a revised timeline. Do it right away. Put a new due date on the calendar.

Keep some tension in the equation. Some healthy pressure on yourself. If you don’t, you might become practiced in absolving yourself for missed deadlines, and that’s a downward cycle.

So when you can, re-calibrate, and meet that next deadline.

Reading names

If you’re going to be reading a list of names in public, learn how the names are pronounced. If you’re unsure, ask someone who knows. Take phonetic notes if necessary.

It doesn’t matter how long the list is. Learn each name as though it’s the only one being read.

Here’s the thing: if the event organizers have called for a name to be read aloud, isn’t the critical first step to learn how the name is said?

Do it justice. Read it right.


When you’re waiting for a meeting to begin (that’s right: because you’re a pro and you’ve arrived early) why sit quietly?

Start a conversation.

Don’t talk about the weather.

Share an amusing story.

Discuss something relevant.


Don’t scroll through your phone looking at banal posts and emails you don’t intend to read.

Make a connection. In person. With words.

It might be easier than you think.