Ok, readers. I have a confession: I made a big mistake.
Now, before I explain what happened, it’s better that I start from the very beginning:
I was ecstatic to receive the offer to guest post because this was the first time a “big name” blog had ever contacted me to do a guest post.
I was also excited because the co-founder of WritetoDone is none other than Leo Babauta, a.k.a. the founder of Zen Habits. If you didn’t know, Zen Habits is consistently ranked among the Top Blogs in the world by Time Magazine.
Now, Leo and Mary are huge not only because they are superbloggers, but because they have done blogging in a way that runs parallel with their personal values of simplicity, patience, mindfulness, and compassion–values that I strongly believe in. As a blogger, I look up to the both of them and hope that one day my blog can be as successful as theirs.
Okay. So now that I have been asked to guest post for two of my blogging role models, I make a decision to make this guest post the best post I have ever written. I pour my heart and soul into this post. I spend hours and hours on this post. I chisel this post down to its essence so that if Michelangelo were to awaken from his grave and read this post he would cry tears of joy.
Then, I begin to edit this post on my blog’s “HTML editor.” Now, for those of you who don’t have a blog, you should know that there are two different editors. One editor let’s you see the HTML code of your blog post (the HTML editor), while the other editor only let’s you see what your readers are going to see (the Visual editor.)
Mary had requested the HTML version of my blog post and so that’s why I was working on my blog’s HTML editor to finish up my post. When I finished editing my guest post on my blog’s HTML editor, I was going to copy the HTML Code and then send it over to Mary so that she could then publish my guest post on her blog.
So, after hours of editing my HTML code, I say to myself:
“Okay, Ollin. You’ve worked long enough on this. It’s done. Let it go.”
So, I let out a long sigh, press the “publish” button and then stand up to get–
Did you just do a double take?
I did too.
“Wait a minute. I’m not publishing this on MY blog, that was supposed to go to—AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!”
I return to my laptop and look at the screen. I noticed the “publish” button has disappeared and it has been replaced by a spinning circle. The spinning circle is letting me know that the post I just wrote is about to be sent to EVERY ONE of my subscribers.
Not only that, but since my Twitter account is linked to my blog, ALL OF MY TWITTER FOLLOWERS will now receive the post.
As the little circle keeps spinning, I’m reminded that my Twitter account is linked to my Facebook account and that means that ALL OF MY FACEBOOK FRIENDS will now receive the post.
The spinning circle disappears and the word: “PUBLISHED!” flashes happily on the screen.
My heart drops to my stomach as I realize that a guest post that was supposed to only appear on WritetoDone has been sent to EVERY ONE of my readers!
For a moment, I PANIC.
But then, my blogger instinct kicks in and I immediately delete the post, instantly breaking any links attached to it. Then, I delete the updates that have been sent to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.
I sigh with relief, for moment, but then my heart drops again.
I realize that there is still the matter of my e-mail subscribers.
So, I quickly write an e-mail telling my subscribers that the post they just received was sent to them by mistake, and that they should delete it. After a moment, many of my readers respond by telling me that they have deleted the post.
There is another sigh of relief, but it is also short-lived.
The panic returns. Suddenly a movie plays out in my head:
It’s Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. He appears standing in the middle of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. He bends over into a “downward dog” yoga pose.
Leo’s laptop is close by. It’s opened. On the laptop screen we can see Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen.
Both Mary and Leo are having a “Skype” video conference.
On the laptop screen, we can see Mary in the middle of a “sun salutation” yoga pose.
“Can you believe it?” Mary says, as she exhales.
“No,” Leo responds, inhaling, “I can’t believe he did that–what was his name again?”
“Ollin, I think. Ollin Morales. Too bad, he had so much potential.”
“What a loser,” Leo says as he relaxes his yoga pose, “He is SO not zen.”
“What should we do?”
“Eh. Just replace him with that OTHER openly gay Latino blogger. The one that explores the intersection between writing and underground street mime.”
Leo sits, crosses his legs and looks at his laptop screen.
“Hey Mary,” he says, “I’m sorry, but I got to go–“
“Where are you going?”
“Oh, I’m just gonna run barefoot across the Golden Gate Bridge, visit Fisherman’s Wharf, help the seals maximize their productivity, teach my kids how to put out fires with their mind, learn how to balance my wife on one toe, and then I’m gonna write a book about how to whip ‘the space-time continuum’ into shape and make it do your bidding.”
“Oh, wow. Sounds like you have really busy day ahead of you, Leo!”
“I know. And I haven’t even told you what I’m doing AFTER breakfast!”
At that moment, I shake my head. The movie disappears.
I stare at the wall for a moment.
Then–I laugh at myself.
Here I am, panicking over a mistake, an honest-to-goodness mistake that any human could have made.
Then I recall how we all make mistakes.
We write the crappy post, or the crappy book, or make the huge networking mistake, or forget the Powerpoint presentation, or choose the wrong career, or the wrong relationship, or we take the wrong exit on the freeway and then we have to bust a “U-ey,” go back on the 5 North so we can get back on the 605, so that then we can make our way back to the 91, and while we do this we’re wasting all this gas and time, and we’re late to an important work meeting, and we start to think–gosh, I am such a MORON! I SUCK AT LIFE!!!
But if you asked all the people you know, you would find that every one of them has taken the wrong exit more than one time in their life, and had to turn around and do it all over again. They had to turn around not because they were a bad person, or because they were stupid, or because they were poor, or because they were part of a minority group, or because their parents were not very nice to them, or because they had nobody to cuddle with at night–no. They took the wrong exit and had to turn around because they had made a MISTAKE, and they made a mistake because they were HUMAN.
After recalling my own, imperfect, humanity, I sent an e-mail to Mary. I told her what had happened and apologized for my mistake.
The next day, Mary responded. Instead of getting angry at me, she told me not to worry and that the whole thing was not a big deal.
I let go my last sigh of relief.
But hey, I’m human. It happens.
The Happy Ending
The happy ending is that my first guest post on a big name blog didn’t bomb, it actually did very well (you can read it here).
Although I am grateful that I was able to share my story with a whole new group of readers, I think I am more grateful for my big mistake and what it taught me.
What it taught me was that I often expect perfection of myself even though I am well aware of my imperfect nature.
But that’s all of us isn’t it?
I guess we all just need to accept the fact that, for some strange reason, we will demand that we run on a treadmill for an hour, even though we are fully aware that we will fall off that treadmill after the first 15 minutes; and then when we do fall off, just as we expected, we will blame ourselves for not trying harder.
When it comes to living with our mistakes, I guess we just have to face the fact that we won’t ever get over our constant need for perfection. Maybe the best thing to do is just to laugh at all the unreasonable expectations we set up for ourselves.
Or maybe we could–you know–just use an Offline Blog Editor from now on.
much olve (oops!),
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made and what did you learn from it? Share your story below.
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