About six months after Australia released its new 50-dollar bill, and 46 million of the bank notes had been circulated, it was found that there were multiple misspellings and typos on the new bill. A national embarrassment. Granted, the mistakes weren’t too easy to spot…but a typo is a typo…a misspelling is a misspelling. Responsibility was spelled “responsibilty”. Emphasize was spelled “emphasise”. Mistakes happen!

The Philippines faced similar embarrassment back in 2005 when it was discovered that new bank notes misspelled the name of then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. On the notes, her last name was spelled “Arrovo”. Mistakes happen!

Last week, a server at Hawksmoor Manchester Steakhouse in England mistakenly poured a customer a bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001, worth $5,760, when the customer had ordered a bottle that cost about $290. A restaurant spokeswoman said, “It was a very busy night at the restaurant and the bottles look pretty similar.” Mistakes happen!

I dated a girl named Kelly Sapp when I was in college. She was from Winston Salem, NC. The first time I went to visit her family’s home, I noticed they had an untuned antique guitar placed in the corner of their living room. Thinking I was doing a good deed for Mr. and Mrs. Sapp, I picked up the guitar and started tuning it. The pressure of tightening the guitar strings literally cracked the guitar in half. When I handed the split guitar back to Kelly’s parents, I learned that this guitar was passed on four generations within the family. And then I learned how lucky Kelly was to have parents like hers. Her parents said to me, “Mistakes happen!”

I remember the first time I met my wife’s whole family in 2003. Jill is from Greeley, CO. We all went to the 4th of July Greeley Stampede parade. The parade was packed with hundreds of people lining the streets. Growing up just miles outside of New York City, I’d never seen anything like that before…a real western cow town parade. When the parade was over, Jill, her parents, brothers, sister, nieces, and nephews must have all bolted in different directions to head back to their cars…accidentally leaving me completely stranded by myself with hundreds of strangers. With no cell phone, I hitched a ride back to Jill’s parents’ home. And when I walked in their front door, I said, “Mistakes happen!”

My first boss out of college was a guy named Terry Adams. I worked for Terry when I was an Admissions Manager for Up with People. When Up with People was performing in Des Moines, Iowa, Terry asked me to introduce the show in front of a couple thousand people. Back then, 26 years ago, I didn’t have much experience in public speaking. When I walked out on stage to introduce the Up with People show, thank the sponsors, etc., as soon as the bright spotlight hit my face, I froze like a deer in headlights. I could not open my mouth. I forgot the sponsor’s name. I forgot what city we were in. I even forgot my own name! Eventually I was rescued by another staff member that finished the show introduction.

I ran off stage and threw up. And I vowed to myself that I would NEVER speak again in public.

The following morning Terry Adams came up to me and said, “Tommy, you are introducing the show again tonight.” I told Terry there was no way in hell I was going back on that stage. And then Terry spoke words to me that I will never forget.
“Tommy, we all make mistakes. That is how we learn. Just don’t make the same mistake twice!”

That night, when the bright spotlight hit my face, I rattled off the Up with People show introduction flawlessly.

Today I make a living as a professional speaker. I get up on stage in front of thousands of people a couple hundred times a year. Twenty-six years ago, I vowed to myself that I would never speak in public again. If Terry Adams never got me back on stage the following day, I would not have become the author and speaker I am today.
It doesn’t matter if we print typos and misspellings on currency, serve the wrong bottle of wine, break an antique guitar, get left behind at a 4th of July parade, or freeze on stage while public speaking…we ALL make mistakes.

Heart-Led Leaders know that mistakes happen. And when we love people through their mistakes, we have an opportunity to change people’s lives…as long as they don’t make the same mistake twice!

Sources: Washington Post & Denver Post